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NOVEMBER 
35 CENTS 



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What the Youth of Today Thinks 
About the America of Tomorrow! 




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APPROACHING HERMES — An exploratory ship from the Moon approaches 
Hermes, closest asteroid to the Earth, seen 220,000 miles in the distance. 
About one mile in diameter, Hermes has a mass of three billion, tons and 
travels through its orbit at seven to nine miles a second. Thousands of 
asteroids, from hundreds of feet in diameter to hundreds of miles in diameter, 
whirl through our solar system, with new ones being discovered every year. 




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WORLDS of SCIENCE FICTION 

NOVEMBER 1954 

All Stories New and Complete 

Editor: JAMES L. QUINN 

Assist. Editors: THOR L. KROGH, EVE WULFF 

Art Editor: ED VALIGURSKY 

Cover by Bob Watkins: 
Youth of Today Looks at America of Tomorrow . 

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I SPECIAL! I 

I IP's $2000 COLLEGE SCIENCE FICTION AWARDS 6 I 



NOVELETTE 

CARRY ME HOME by Gordon R. Dickson 

SHORT STORIES 

FOR EVERY MAN A REASON by Patrick Wilkins 

STALEMATE by Basil Wells 

PROGENY by Philip K. Dick " 

THE HONORED PROPHET by William E. Behtley 

THE HITCH HIKERS by Vernon L. Mc Coin 

VACATION by John Christopher 

THE VERY SECRET AGENT by Mari Wolf 

FEATURES 

A CHAT WITH THE EDITOR 
WHAT IS YOUR SCIENCE I.Q.? 
WORTH CITING 
SCIENCE BRIEFS 

COVER PICTORIAL: 

Approaching for Landing on Asteroid Hermes 



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52 
64 
78 
86 
98 
104 



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63 

116 

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IF is published monthly by Quinn Publishing Company, Inc. Volume 4, No. 3. 
Copyright 1954 by Quinn Publishing Co., Inc. Office of publication, 8 Lord Street, 
Buffalo, New York. Entered as Second Class Matter at Post Office, Buffalo, New 
York. Subscription $3.50 for 12 issues in U.S. and Possessions; Canada $4 for 12 
issues; elsewhere $4.50. Allow four weeks for change of address. All stories appear- 
ing in this magazine are fiction; any similarity to actual persons is coincidental. 
Not responsible for unsolicited artwork or manuscripts, 35c a copy. Printed in U.S.A. 

EDITORIAL AND BUSINESS OFFICES, KINGSTON, NEW YORK 

Next issue on sale October lOth ' , 




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A CHAT WITH 
THE EDITOR . 

HAVE YOU ever seen any of those 
ludicrously funny cartoons on ash 
trays or cocktail napkins or home 
bar glasses entitled "People are no 
damned good" or "Nobody loves 
me" or "Farewell cruel world" or 
some of the others? No doubt you 
have; they have become quite a 
fad. And whole you do get a heck 
of a big laugh out of them, it's still 
sort of tragic that they hit home so 
accurately. They pin-point the foi- 
bles of so many of us, and that's 
what makes them funny in the last 
analysis. 

Quite probably you have, at some 
time or other, gotten into conversa- 
tion with someone who has said, 
"Oh I guess the place is all right, 
but the people are so damned un- 
friendly." Or, something like this: 
"Have you noticed how cliquish 
this town is?" Or, "If my job 
weren't here I'd leave like a shot." 
Etcetera, etcetera. New York City 



is a classic example. Scores of peo-? ■ 
pie who left home to make their 
money there call it a cold, linr 
friendly place. And New York isn't 
unique in this respect; you can; 
hear similar comments about other 
cities all over the USA. 

A good many of these "gripers" 
probably left the old home town 
because they felt that way there . . . 
and they carry the seed of discon- 
tent with them wherever they go. 
A sort of invisible chip on the 
shoulder. Perhaps if they gave 
whatever town they're talking 
about half a chance to be friend- 
ly they'd be singing a different 
tune. Then, again — maybe they 
wouldn't. Maybe, psychologically, 
they'd be unhappy anywhere un- 
less they could complain. But to 
give them their due, you can find a 
bad egg now and then in any ■ 
basket. So if nothing but a basket 
of perfect eggs will do, maybe liv- 
ing alone on a four by four island 
in the Pacific is the answer. And 
there is no guarantee that even . 
that will be Utopia. If you want 
to like a town, it will like you. And 
that goes for the biggest place in 
the world as well as the smallest. 

I have good reason to think that 
so-called "cold" and "unfriendly" 
New York is the greatest city in the 
world — and not only because of its 
size. I never "froze" during the 14 
years I spent there, and I met a lot 
of people who were certainly far 
from unfriendly. And I left it with 
more than I had when I went 
there. 

As far as this particular spot 
called Kingston is concerned, I 
don't know of a better place on the 
map. I've been here ten years and 
I wouldn't mind another hundred. 



PERSONALLY, I prefer a small city 
like this one on the banks of the 
Hudson. You get to know most of 
the folks and they get to know you. 
It's kinda good to have someone 
yell across the street "Hi, Jim!" Or 
to stop and gab in the middle of 
the street until a car bonks you on 
your way. Then, too, maybe it's be- 
cause in less than 20 minutes after 
you leave the office you can be fish- 
ing or swimming or playing golf 
or paddling a canoe on the river 
or just walking through the woods 
or sightseeing from the top of a 
mountain. Yup, it's very nice 
around here. 

Of course, while I like vanilla, 
another man likes chocolate. Which 
is fine. But those who don't like 
vanilla or chocolate or strawberry 
or lemon or lime or tutti-fruitti or 
anything else . . . well, that's their 
privilege. They are what the dic- 
tionary calls "misanthropes". And 
the way this old world of ours is 
getting smaller every day there 
isn't much room for that kind 
of philosophy. People have a lot of 
living together to do, and a let of 
liking to do. Perhaps it will require 
a good deal of effort on each in- 
dividual's part to develope a "give" 
attitude; but our society today 
seems to demand that effort from 
all of us. Tolerance is not enough, 
we need a definite policy that is 
concerned with putting our best 
foot forward in taking a step to- 
ward our neighbor. You could live 
in a town or city forever and a day 
without griping; but without liking 
it either, if you are merely tolerant 
of the "coldness and unfriendli- 
ness". You've got to pitch in with 



your neighbors, develope a "give" 
attitude, become an integral part 
of community affairs . . . and the 
cliques and the coldness melt away. 
Moral and intellectual and political 
distrust between nations is too ram- 
pant today to let it penetrate to 
next door neighbors. When a 
choice is made, whether it be in 
local politics, or in international 
diplomatic relations, it always 
seems to be a choice of "the lesser 
of two evils". Perhaps I'm naive, 
but why can't it be the "better of 
two goods"? Or isn't that cricket 
in politics and diplomacy? "Give" 
isn't an easy thing to acquire. It so 
often involves pride and ethics and 
prejudice and an almost complete 
about face of personality and think- 
ing. Such a reversal of opinions may 
seem like too big a job. But there 
are hundreds of people who have 
managed just that task, who have 
stepped out of the ranks of the mis- 
anthropes, and found that here is 
no such thing as an unfriendly 
town, and that life can be a very 
pleasant thing whether they are 
living in Oshkosh or in Dallas. It's 
a big job for the individual and 
may not seem to have much affect 
on the rest of mankind or on world 
politics. But it is a beginning. And 
perhaps if we start in a small way, 
those cartoons that seem to point 
out that we're all going to hell in a 
handbasket won't hit the mark so 
closely any more. 

Maybe all this is Sunday school 
stuff. Maybe it's too Pollyanna-ish. 
Maybe so. Maybe you don't think 
it's science fiction. I do. And heck, 
a little slice of optimism does a fel- 
low good now and then. — ^jlq 



THE SEVEN WINNERS IN IPS $2000 
COLLEGE SCIENCE FICTION CONTEST! 

What the Youth of Today Thinks About 

the America of Tomorrow Reflected 

in Stories by Undergraduates 



A UNIVERSITY of Louisville 
junior, Andy Offut, of Louis- 
ville, Kentucky, captured the first 
prize of $1000 with his manuscript 
entitled "And Gone Tomorrow" 
in the nation-wide College Science 
Fiction Contest sponsored by IF 
Magazine which closed midnight 
May 15th. His story was judged 
best among those submitted by 
amateur writers in colleges all over 
America in answer to the theme 
question: "What Will Life in 
America Be Like 100 Years From 
Now?" 

Second prize of $500 went to 
Jack Nelson, of Norwalk, Cali- 
fornia, a Brigham Young Univer- 
sity senior, for his story "Men of 
Boru". 

Five runner-up prizes of $100 
each went to the following: Leo 
Kelley, of Kingston, Pennsylvania, 
a Wilkes College sophomore, third 
prize for "Dreamtown, U.S.A."; 
Lee Holum, of Spokane, Washing- 
ton, a senior at Whitworth College, 
fourth prize for "The Third Par- 
ty"; John R. Arnold, of Rochester, 
New York, a senior at Cornell Uni- 
versity, fifth prize for "One Re- 
mained to Question the Gardener" ; 
Edward D. McHugh, of Holyoke, 



1st PRIZE $1000 

ANDY OFFUT, Junior, Uni- 
versity of Louisville, Louis- 
ville, Kentucky 

2n(l PRIZE $500 

JACK NELSON, Senior, 
Brigham Young University, 
Provo, Utah 

3rd PRIZE $100 

LEO P. KELLEY, Sopho- 
more, Wilkes College, Wilkes 
Barre, Pennsylvania 

4th PRIZE $100 

LEE HOLUM, Senior Whit- 
worth College, Spokane, 
Washington 

5th PRIZE $100 

JOHN R. ARNOLD, Senior, 
Cornell University, Ithaca, 
New York 

6th PRIZE $100 

EDWARD D. McHUGH, 

Senior, Dartmouth College, 
Hanover, New Hampshire 

7th PRIZE $100 

STANLEY GLEIT, Sopho- 
more, City College of New 
York, New York City 



Massachusetts, a senior at ■Dart- 
mouth College, sixth prize for "Im- 
age of God"; Stanley Gleit, of New 
York City, a sophomore at City 
College of New York, seventh prize 
for "It's Really Sirius". 

Last fall IF Magazine announced 
its first College Science Fiction 
Contest to 674 colleges and uni- 
versities throughout the United 
States and Canada. Students, who 
had never written professionally, 
were invited to submit stories, based 
on their own ideas and interpreta- 
tions of events today, predicting 
what life in America will be like 
100 years from now. Prizes of $2000 
in cash were offered for the best 
Stories. 

The idea caught on like wildfire. 
Here was a chance to draw atten- 
tion to their own thoughts, tenets, 
philosophies and moral and po- 
litical convictions which had been 
the subjects of classroom discussions 
and "bull sessions" in fraternity 
houses and dormitories. 

Inquiries, ideas and suggestions 
poured into our offices from all 
corners of the country. When we 
finished them we had a pretty clear 
picture of what the youth of today 
thinks will be the American Way 
of Life 100 years from now. Un- 
fortunately, only a few manuscripts 
were received from the fair sex and 
these were eliminated well before 
the final judging. And we did want 
to include a pretty coed in our 
gallery of winners. But — ! 

When Jules Verne wrote his im- 
aginative tales about submarines 
and airplanes, he was accused of 
writing "fairy tales". These stories 
by the young people of today are 
predicted on the same sort of data- 
cum-imagination that prompted 



Verne to predict a future filled with 
mechanical and technical marvels. 
Perhaps, in these winning manu- 
scripts, there is much indicated and 
predicted that will become ac- 
tuality in 100 years. 

Predictions that covered almost 
every aspect of our society from re- 
li^on and philosophy to biology 
and technology made the choice of 
winners an intensely interesting 
and very difficult problem. But the 
choice was finally made; and here 
are the winners, with what they 
predict, fiction-wise, for America 
and the world to come: 

ANDY OFFUT 

"And Gone Tomorrow" 




GRAY-EYED, brown haired 
Andy Offut was born in Louisville, 
Kentucky twenty years ago. After 
what he terms a very conventional 
childhood, he made his bid for 
unconventionality by skipping his 
senior year at high school and en- 
tering the University of Louis- 
ville on a Ford Scholarship in 1951. 
Now a senior studying for an AB, 
he's majoring in English and psy- 
chology, and has had a smattering 
of everything else from math and 



philosophy to French and political 
science. He has also found time to 
be Secretary of the Student Coun- 
cil, house manager and assistant 
pledge master of his fraternity, edi- 
tor-in-chief of one school paper 
and columnist and assistant editor 
of the college weekly. He was re- 
cently initiated into Pi Delta Ep- 
silon, national journalism frater- 
nity. He also spends twenty hours 
a week as "chief flunky" with 
an advertising agency and another 
ten hours a week as a clothing 
salesman. 

As if all this wasn't enough to 
fill up his time, Andy's hobbies 
sound like a full time job in them- 
selves. He draws and writes an 
"uncomical comic strip", writes a 
biting and satirical advice-to-the- 
lovelorn column, plays poker and 
bridge, and reads science fiction 
and Roman history. 

The future includes a job in 
Uncle Sam's army, then a career in 
advertising or public relations. 

And Gone Tomorrow forsees a 
world wherein government has re- 
verted to a complete autocracy. 
In a very literal sense, the time of 
Julius Caesar has returned in the 
person of an Italian dictator whose 
legions and centurions are ruling 
the world. There is one ruler, one 
capital, one army, one language, 
one nationality, one world, one 
religion. There is time travel, 
there are locks that open when 
"recognizing" fingerprints, there 
are telephones that recognize 
voices. There are self-shaping san- 
dals, air baths, ever-running chro- 
nometers, gyro-jet cars that hug 
the road like a magnet but can 
sprout wings and fly, and cyanide 
pellet guns that kill instantly with- 



out pain or maiming: Cigarettes 
have been outlawed as detrimental 
to health and there is no insurance. 
The trial marriage system in ef- 
fect works so well that there are 
never any divorces. The story that 
Mr. Offut tells concerns a young 
man of today, who is whisked one 
hundred years into the future, and 
a political truth which he discovers : 
"there is no perfect government." 
Mr. OfTut's story will appear in 
the next issue of IF. Watch for it. 



JACK NELSON 

"Men of Boru" 




JACK NELSON is twenty-three 
years old, single, and was born in 
Artesia, California. His family 
moved to nearby Bellflower, and he 
attended Excelsior High School 
where, according to Jack, he 
learned to chase girls and to throw 
a reverse body block in football. It 
was here, too, that Jack was strick- 
en with the malady that has con- 
fined him to a wheel chair for the 
last five years.. 

His hobbies are hunting and 
fishing — ^which he does from a 
wheel-chair. Thafe^handicap hasn't 



bothered him much though; he's 
gotten his deer each season for the 
last three years, plus innumerable 
rabbits and ducks. And he manages 
to get his limit of trout quite often 
by fishing from a rubber raft. 

After high school, he went to 
Fullerton Junior College and while 
taking a writing course there won 
the California Junior Colleges 
award for creative writing. At Brig- 
ham Young University, from which 
he graduated this June with a 
Bachelor of Arts degree, he majored 
in journalism, was sports editor of 
the paper, did quite a bit of work 
in political science and history, 
won a medal for rope climbing and 
two other medals for the men's 
yearly literary award. 

He's sold magazines, picked fruit, 
worked in a dairy, been an elec- 
trician's helper and a reporter on 
a daily paper. For the immediate 
future Jack wants nothing more 
than to work on a newspaper for a 
while — one "where a fellow can 
whistle when he wants." 

Men of Boru pictures a future 
where most of the American people 
Hve in underground cities. Fear and 
a desire for security have driven 
them into an almost mindless slav- 
ery under a "Leader". People sleep 
when they're told, wake when 
they're told, eat when and what 
they're told, and work at a job 
arbitrarily assigned to them. Each 
person lives alone, and women 
mate only with the "Leader's" 
chosen representatives. Children are 
cared for by the "Leader's" nurses 
from the day of their birth. Salt is 
the highest of luxuries, and me- 
chanically induced dreams are the 
only recreation. Those who rebel 
against such slavery are sterilized 



and brainwashed and forced to live 
outside on the surface of the Earth. 
There are a few men who never 
succumbed to the need for security 
and who live lives of freedom in 
the world outside. This is the story 
of those free men and their efforts 
to bring the ant-like people of the 
cities back to reality. 

Mr. Nelson's story will appear 
in the January issue of IF, pub- 
lished in November. 



LEO KELLEY 

'Dreamtown, U.S.A." 




LEO KELLEY is twenty-five 
years old and has lived all twenty- 
five of those years in Kingston, 
Pennsylvania where he was born. 
A sophomore at Wilkes College, 
Wilkes Barre, he is working toward 
the Bachelor of Arts degree with a 
major in English. Coupled with his 
interest in English and literature is 
an equally strong interest in psycho- 
logy, subjects which he feels will 
help him reach his goal of profes- 
sional writer. 

After leaving high school he held 
sundry, short-lived jobs in various 
parts of the country. He has worked 



as a concessionaire at seashore re- 
sorts, as dishwasher in restaurants, 
and as a freight handler and win- 
dow trimmer in department stores. 
One year was spent sailing the seas 
in . the Merchant Marine. Italy, 
Nova Scotia and Venezuela were 
on the itinerary that year. 

A childhood ambition to join the 
circus was realized to some degree 
when Leo brought to life a clown 
marionette called "Candy", which 
he operates nightly on a television 
program in Wilkes Barre. He'd 
been working with marionettes for 
years, ever since the fifth grade. 
Between high school and the Army 
he toured professionally with the 
Meredith Marionettes presenting 
"Pinocchio" for school children. 
His tour of duty with the Army 
Signal Corps was spent in the 
States. 

The G.I, Bill and some money 
saved from the seafaring days are 
paying his way through college. 
With two more years of school 
ahead and a nightly T.V. show, he 
expects to be kept pretty busy, but 
hopes, nevertheless, to continue his 
writing. 

A world where every effort is 
bent to the pursuit of pleasure and 
sensation is the tomorrow of 
Dreamtown U.S.A. Drugs are a 
casual everyday part of living, 
clothes are decorative and brief. 
There are moving sidewalks, in- 
vigorating and soothing rays which 
relieve tension and hangovers. Each 
home has a dimensional theater 
and a ceiling television screen, and 
parties are an all day and an all 
night event. Schools of all kinds 
have been abolished and children 
are sent to big, bright playgrounds 
where the biggest bully is considered 

10 



the "prize" pupil. All books have 
been burned, and a person who is 
caught reading one is a subversive. 
A council is the protector and pro- 
vider and producer, and as long 
as there are parties, pleasures and 
drugs no one cares who or what 
the council may be. There are some 
rebels outside the city; people who 
remember the dignity of learning, 
the wonder of books and art, who 
feel that life has more to offer than 
pleasure and sensualism. This is 
the story of the rebels and their 
fight to capture the city and to 
give back man's dignity to those 
caught in the web of hedonism. 

Dreamtown, U.S.A. will ap- 
pear in the February issue of IF, 



LEE HOLUM 

'The Third Party' 



,<i'j'L»r"'»5«'"«-v 




LEE HOLUM was born twenty- 
three years ago in the town of Wolf 
Point, Montana, located in the 
northeastern corner of the state; 
but has spent most of his life in the 
Pacific Northwest. He completed 
the work for his Bachelor of Science 
degree in chemistry at Whitworth 
College this year. 



He had a paper route while in 
grade and high schools, and the 
money saved from that paper route 
paid his first semester at college. 
Since then he has earned his way 
by working in a dairy bottling 
plant during summer vacations. 

Lee says his only hobby is read- 
ing science fiction which he does 
"voraciously". He started to read 
it in his junior year in high school 
and has been doing more and 
more of it ever since. His favorite 
authors are Robert Heinlein, Ar- 
thur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. 

Although the BS is now an ac- 
complished fact, he plans to start 
work on his master's at New Mexico 
Highlands University this fall, with 
a major in organic chemistry. Re- 
search is the real love of his life 
and Lee Holum hopes fervently 
that the government or some pri- 
vate industry will come up with a 
job in that field when he's ready 
to start a career. 

The Third Party envisions a fu- 
ture in which the moon has been 
reached and colonized, where the 
arctic is honeycombed with under- 
ground cities, and weather station 
satellites circle the Earth. Rocket 
ships are a common mode of travel 
and there are convertiplanes, con- 
veyor sidewalks, self -molding chairs 
and electrically heated clothes. The 
movie industry is a thing of the 
past, with television providing all 
entertainment. Chicago is the North 
American capital, the U.S.S.R. is 
gone, split into tiny, constantly 
warring states. The United States 
after a severe ecooomic collapse, 
has risen again as part of the North 
Americap Republic. There is an 
Asian Gommonwealth, a South 
American Republic, an Arctic 



League, a Baltic Federation and a 
very powerful League of Islam 
which had gained much stature 
after the collapse of Russia and the 
United States. This is the story 
of political intrigue and attempts 
by the League of Islam to start a 
war of destruction between the 
North and South American Re- 
publics; and of the one man, an 
eminent scientist, who is the focal 
point in the conspiracy. 

The Third Party will appear in 
the March issue of IF. 



JOHN ARNOLD 

'One Remained to Question 
the Gardener" 




TWENTY-TWO year old John 
Arnold was born in New York City. 
High school math and science sti- 
mulated a desire to be an engineer, 
and a scholarship made a course 
in electrical engineering at Cor- 
nell University the next obvious 
step. He graduated with his BEE 
this year, after a five year program. 
The liberal electives that he found 
time for stimulated a new interest 
in writing, and writing about the 
frontiers of science "just sort of 



came naturally". 

Participating in almost all sports 
is his hobby; but wrestling is the 
only one that he takes seriously. 
He plans to continue as an amateur 
athlete in the hope that he may 
someday place in a national tourna- 
ment. 

The immediate future is pretty 
•v^ell mapped out for John. He's 
a reserve officer in the Army Ord- 
nance Corps, but has received a 
year's deferment to work for Bell 
Telephone Laboratories in New 
York City. He's been accepted by 
Bell Labs for their Communica- 
tions Development Program, which 
is the equivalent of graduate study 
in electrical engineering. 

Writing is harder than he 
thought it would be; but John 
finds that it has forced him to think 
more deeply and to discover more 
about himself; and that is enough 
of a reason to prompt him to plan 
to go on writing whenever he can 
find the time. 

One Remained To Question the 
Gardener has an America of the 
future run by electronic brains and 
computers. Factories, weather bu- 
reaus, social insurance- — all that 
men can feel, taste, see or be af- 
fected by in a physical sense is 
effortlessly controlled by com- 
puters. Research laboratories are 
the center of all human effort. 
iMusic, art and literature have 
flourished in this leisure society. 
Women have reached a state of 
complete independence. Cooking 
and cleaning are done by machines, 
unborn children are carried only 
three months instead of nine, there 
is compulsory education from the 
cradle through college. Cities are 
deserted by all but career women, 

IZ 



and the men have retired to ath- 
letic lodges or clubs. This is the 
story of a new computer which be- 
gins to infringe on personal philoso- 
phy of the people, of their willing- 
ness to be led and controlled on 
this level too, and of the one man 
who determines that he will stand 
by his beliefs and help man tran- 
scend the machine. 

One Remained to Question the 
Gardener will appear next spring. 



EDWARD McHUGH 

"Image of God" 




EDWARD McHUGH was bom 
in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 1932, 
and has had his heart set on being 
an M.D. ever since. He entered 
Dartmouth in 1950, after getting his 
primary and secondary education 
in the local schools, and this June 
was awarded an AB in chemistry 
and zoology. 

Summer vacations provided ex- 
perience as a bus boy, waiter, mail 
carrier and ditch digger. While 
marking time between graduation 
and entering Georgetown Medical 
School he is working at a local 
brewery. To while away the hours 



between chemistry-zoology and 
ditch digging he explores the "dark 
mysteries of magic" and gives per- 
formances of the art of prestidigi- 
tation for church groups, children's 
parties, etcetera. Photography is 
another of his sidelines, and de- 
veloping and printing his own pic- 
tures and those of his friends takes 
up a good part of his spare time. 

That Medical degree he wants 
so much has even been the reason 
for Ed's writing. While at Dart- 
mouth, he discovered that he would 
need at least two full years of 
English in order to qualify as a 
candidate for a medical school. He 
had already had one year, and a 
friend suggested some courses to 
complete the necessary two. A so- 
called creative writing course was 
among the suggestions and Ed 
blindly wandered into it, took it, 
found he liked it very much. 

Image of God pictures an Amer- 
ica in the grip of an autocracy. It 
is a world without wars, where 
Negroes have been exterminated 
to avoid friction, where all printed 
matter has been confiscated and 
burned and where man has been 
reduced to the level of the machine. 
Radiation sickness has been con- 
quered but mutations crop up in 
the succeeding generations, and 
mutants are hunted down like ani- 
mals. There are electo guns that 
paralyze or kill, backjets that can 
be worn by men and so enable 
them to fly, and any thinking, 
above the mindless machine level, 
is done by members of a world 
federation which rules the Earth. 
There are men with a desire for 
freedom and self-government who 
have banded together in an under- 
ground to revolt against the tyranny 



that oppresses man. McHugh tells 
the story of a hunted mutant with 
a desire to live like other men who 
finds kinship with the rebels and 
joins them in their fight for liberty 
and equality and the right to tread 
the Earth as an accepted human 
being. 

Image of God will appear in IF 
next spring. 



STANLEY GLEIT 

"It's Really Sirius" 




STANLEY GLEIT is the young- 
est of our winners. He was born in 
New York City nineteen years ago, 
and has been a staunch resident of 
the Bronx ever since. He has al- 
ways been interested in design and 
construction and majored in art 
and architecture in high school. 
After graduation he decided to en- 
ter engineering school at the Col- 
lege of the City of New York so 
that he might combine the fields 
of engineering and architecture. In 
the fall he will be entering his 
junior year at college, still working 
toward a Bachelor of Science in 



(Continued on page 96) 



13 



Illustrated by Paul Orban 



BY PATRICK WILKINS 



FOR EVERY MAN A REASON 

To love your wife is good; to love your State is good, too. 

But if it comes to a question of survival, you have to 

love one better than the other. Also, better than . 

yourself. It was simple for the enemy; they 

knew which one Aron was dedicated to ... 



THE THUNDER of the jets 
died away, the sound drifting 
wistfully off into the hills. The 
leaves that swirled in the air re- 
turned to the ground slowly, reluc- 
tantly. 

The rocket had gone. 

Aron Myers realized that he was 
looking at nothing. He noticed that 
his face was frozen into a meaning- 
less smile. He let the smile slowly 
dissolve as he turned to look at his 
wife. 

She was a small woman, and he 
realized for the first time how fra- 
gile she was. Her piquant face, 
framed by long brown, flowing hair, 
was an attractive jewel when set 
on the plush cushion of civilization. 
Now her face, set in god-forsaken 
wilderness, metamorphosed into the 
frightened mask of a small animal. 



They were alone. 

Two human beings alone on this 
wild, lonely planet. Aron's mind 
suddenly snapped from that frame 
of reference — ^his subjective view 
of their position— to the scale of 
galaxies. It was a big planet to 
them, but it was a marble in the 
galaxy that man had discovered 
and claimed, and was now fighting 
with himself to retain. This aggre- 
gate of millions of pebbles was 
wracked with the violence of war, 
where marbles were more expend- 
able than the microbes that dwelt 
on them. 

The two walked hand in hand 
away from the meadow where the 
ship had been. The feeble wind 
snuffled at the scraps of paper and 
trash, the relics of man's passing. 

They walked up the hill to their 



14 



station, the reason for their being 
on this wayside planet. 

Aron thought about the scenery 
around them. The compact, utili- 
tarian building that was the station 
did not seem out of place against 
the bleak landscape. The landscape 
did not clash or conform to its 
location— it just didn't give a damn 
whether there was a building there 
or not. 

Aron and Martha, his wife, took 
their time. They had an abundance 
of that elusive quantity known as 
time at this lonely outpost. The trail 
up to the station was rough, with 
rocks and weeds tearing at them. 
Aron resolved that that would be 
one of his first projects, to put 
in a good path to the meadow 
where the rocket would come for 
them — five years from now. 

The sunset did nothing to en- 
hance the countryside. There was 
not enough dust in the air to create 
any striking colors. As the shadows 
began to lap at the hill, they hurried 
the last few steps to the building. 

That evening they were both 
nervous, justifiably so, for not only 
were they starting on the question- 
able adventure of sequestered 
watchdogs on the planet, they were 
starting the adventure of marriage. 

Aron had met Martha on Tyros, 
a planetary trade center of some 
importance. She was a waitress. 

Since he was marking time on 
Tyros, waiting for his assignment, 
he had a chance to cultivate her 
acquaintance. On their dates, what 
he had to tell her about his life 
was brief, impersonal. 

Aron was in the Maintenance di- 
vision of the Territorial Administra- 
tion aiid his duties were to hold 




15 



■posts on various planets and act as 
an observer of that planet's 
caprices. 

The rush of mankind from 
Earth, like a maddened swarm of 
bees from a hive, had carried it 
through the galaxy in a short time. 
On all the discovered planets 
that had to be reserved for future 
inhabitants, the Territorial Admin- 
istration had set up observation 
stations. The men posted there 
were merely to record such fasci- 
nating information as meteorologi- 
cal and geographical conditions. 

When the time came to expand, 
the frail little creatures with the 
large brains and larger egos would 
know the best havens for migra- 
tion. 

Another reason for these stations 
was the war. When man had flung 
himself madly at the galaxy, he had 
diffused himself thinly over a 
macroscopic area. Some almost iso- 
lated colonies had developed the 
inevitable thirst for independence. 

From local but violent wars be- 
tween colonies, some semblance of 
order had been wrought. Now 
there were two sprawling interstel- 
lar empires, the United Empire — 
Aron and Martha were citizens — 
and the People's Republic. 

Since Aron's realm relied on in- 
dustrial technology and agriculture 
and the People's Republic based 
its economy on mining and trade, 
there seemed to be plenty of room 
for consolidation. 

Unfortunately this consolidation, 
or even peaceful trading, was not 
possible, due to the fact that the 
two dominions had entirely differ- 
ent forms of government and reli- 
gion. The result was, as always, 
war. 



These .were the general facts that 
both Aron and Martha knevv. What 
Aron discussed with his fiance were 
the effects of this macropolitiCal 
situation upon their personal lives. 
The previous posts that Aron had 
held in the TA were planets in the 
interior of the United Empire.. 

During his stay on Tyros, he re- 
ceived the assignment he expected. 
It was a post on the fringe of the 
empire, a planet called Kligor. 
These stations of the fringe served 
dual purposes, not only their usual 
function of planetary observation 
but as military outposts to warn 
and halt any attempted invasion. 

When he heard this assignment, 
Aron proposed, holding up to 
Martha the prospect of comfort- 
able living in civilization once the 
five year hitch on Kligor- was over. 

She consented — not really know- 
ing if she loved him or not. 

They had been married the day 
they left. The space ship was so 
crowded there was no chance for 
privacy, so the two had no honey- 
moon till they reached the station. 



A RON AND his bride arrived 
-^*- on Kligor in what was autumn 
on the planet, for the seasons were 
consistent in all hemispheres. 

Aron planned to spend a week 
at the station with his wife and 
then begin a planetary check of 
the various automatic observation 
stations that compiled the mete- 
orological and other data and. re- 
layed it by radio to the main sta- 
tion. This check had to be com- 
pleted before snow came to the 
planet. 

In that week they learned about 
each other. Neither of them was 



J..6 



PATRICK WILKIKS 



young and both were mature and 
prosaic enough to develop the daily 
routine of a long-married couple. 
There were many free hours which 
they would spend talking about 
themselves. 

To Martha, marriage was not 
new. She had experienced matri- 
mony before. Her husband, a gam- 
bler, had killed himself after a bad 
loss, leaving her with an impossible 
burden of debt and a disillusioned 
mind. 

Since then she had worked, grad- 
ually paying off his debts. When 
Aron had come along, she liked 
the big man and thought that the 
years on Kligor would give her 
respite from a demanding reality. 

Siie did not. picture herself as a 
tragJp figure,' but rather as merely 
compe'fent -and stable, not realizing 
that that attitude in itself is a sure 
sign of instability. A smile seldom 
foimd her face. She was slightly 
nervous with a tendency towards 
moodiness. 

Aron's history was not so bitter. 
He was born in a large family and 
had formed an aloof, reserved na- 
ture to achieve a sense of individu- 
ality in the group. His life had been 
spent in government work and he 
had never tasted the variable brew 
of the nuptial cup till he met 
Martha. 

He was not a deep man in emo- 
tion. His nature was such that he 
had to be constantly occupied with 
something — not the frenzied scurry- 
ing of insecure individuals — ^but a 
solid problem that he could work 
out. A project that he could care- 
fully shape with a keen analytical 
niind or capable hands. 

They did not think of each other 
in terms of these thumbnail 

FOR EVERjY AMN A REASON 



sketches, but merely watched and 
observed — and adjusted to each 
other. Their marriage was almost 
one of convenience, with just 
enough affection involved to oil 
over any disputes. 

The spell of the planet gradually 
lulled them into hypnotic accept- 
ance of their sequestered lives. 
Their daily duties became the only 
things worth thinking about. 

Aron learned about the planet 
in the next two months on his tours 
of inspection. He used a small at- 
mosphere flier to cover the various 
posts scattered over its surface. 

The small blockhouses were au- 
tomatic and hermetically sealed to 
preserve the instruments, but some- 
thing could go wrong and then it 
was his job to fix it. 

As for the military defense sys- 
tem of Kligor, that was also auto- 
matic but not Aron's responsibility. 
It was a series of artificial satel- 
lites on the rim of the planetary 
system, with long-range detecting 
and tracting systems that would 
activate and co-ordinate firing 
mechanisms to blast any ship from 
the void. 

It was Aron's duty to de-activate 
them with a control in his station 
if he was signalled by a pre-ar- 
ranged code from a friendly United 
Republic ship. That was all he had 
to, or could, do with them. 

The planetary stations were all 
in good shape except for minor re- 
pairs, which Aron attended to with 
the quiet joy of a man who loves 
machinery. He was home sooner 
than expected and just in time. The 
next day it began to snow. 

The weather had opposite effects 
on the people in the station. Aron, 

17 



long used to such confinements, 
settled down and began reading 
some of the great mass of books 
which he had brought, or working 
painstakingly on hobbies. 

Martha grew more distraught as 
the snowbound months went by. 
The wild enthusiasm of her youth 
had left her, but she was not stoic 
enough to take the long confine- 
ment and inactivity. She tried to 
pick arguments, but Aron wouldn't 
argue. She tried to get interested 
in some time-consuming hobby, but 
she lacked the patience. 

Spring finally came. On the first 
nice day Mariha went on a long 
walk to watch the few flowers that 
Kligor boasted push their fragile 
buds into the air. Aron spent the 
day working on the path and the 
clearing that was a spaceport. 

When night came, he was alone 
at the station. 

Aron waited up all night, know- 
ing it would be futile to search in 
the dark, not knowing in which di- 
rection or how far she had gone 
on her stroll. Aron was not too wor- 
ried, since there were no danger- 
ous animals. She was probably lost 
or had a sprained ankle, iii which 
case she would have the sense to 
find a sheltered place and be safe 
for the night. 

When morning came he began 
searching. He used the atmosphere 
flier to cruise over the nearby 
country. 

Up and down hillsides he flew 
the craft, gliding slowly at a low 
altitude. He stopped over clumps 
of bushes for a careful scan, occa- 
sionally roaring towards what 
looked like a piece of cloth, but al- 
ways turned out to be a bright 
stone. 

U 



When he found her, he knew be- 
fore he landed. She was sprawled 
at the bottom of a high cliff. 

She was not pretty any more. 
She wasn't even a live animal, just 
dead flesh lying there, smeared 
with blood and covered with tat- 
tered clothes. 

Aron remained in a stage of 
pre-shock, a state of cold clear ra- 
tionality, until he had taken her 
back to the station, dug a grave 
and buried her. He wasn't sad, it 
was just a job to be done. This 
wasn't his wife he was burying. 

It wasn't until that evening that 
the fact of her death penetrated 
and was accepted by his mind. 



THE NEXT few days were 
spent in routine actions. Aron 
relied on his usual anodyne — work. 
The pathway and the meadow 
were filled with cement by the end 
of the fifth day. 

He let his stunned mind become 
wrapped in the problem of com- 
pleting this job — the weight of the 
shovel in his hand, the heat of the 
sun on his back — these were what 
he thought about. It was not a 
solution or even escape, just a stall. 

The sixth day brought a visitor. 

The shock of someone knocking 
at the door, walking in, introducing 
himself and sitting down to talk 
yanked Aron's mind into aware- 
ness. 

The only way to achieve a land- 
ing would be for a friendly ship 
to signal him and have him de- 
activate the defenses — which defi- 
nitely had not happened! 

Therefore it was hallucination, a 
miracle, or at least an interesting 
trick that this man had appeared 

PATRICK WILKINS 



at his station. Aron took interest, 
demanding that the man start from 
the beginning again as he had 
missed the introductions due to 
slight surprise. 

"I said I am Karl Rondwell, an 
agent and representative of the 
People's Republic, being a member 
of the Intelligence department of 
her imperial navy," the man re- 
plied. 

"The first question is, naturally," 
Aron said, "How the Hell did you 
get here?" 

A slight smile. "Your much- 
vaunted defenses that are supposed 
to be able to snuff out the mightiest 
fleet, these defenses are easy to pass 
■ — for one man." 

Aron could see that easily 
enough. "What is your purpose 
here then?" 

"A deal, naturally!" 

"I imagined so. You will have to 
persuade me, because you can't re- 
move me and take over those de- 
fenses. Lack of knowledge of the 
proper code would trip you up 
when our United Empire ships 
came snooping around as they do 
so often." 

"Since we understand the rules 
of the game," the enemy agent said, 
"let's proceed with it. 

"Let me begin with a discussion 
of civilization. You may have for- 
gotten something about it in your 
secluded life here." 

The agent went on to speak of 
civilization, its comforts. Since he 
was a spy, he had spent a good 
deal of time in the United Repub- 
lic. He spoke' in terms of a man 
with money, the plush night spots, 
the beautiful girls that would be 
only too glad to be friendly with a 
wealthy man. 

FOR EVERY MAN A REASON 



"All right," Aron interrupted 
him. "That's clever oratory, but 
money isn't all I'll take to sell out 
my empire. What else have you to 
offer, and remember, I'm not buy- 
ing — just looking." 

The agent made his case stronger 
by comparing plush civilization to 
the futile hermit's existence of a 
TA observer, throwing in a few 
remarks about the brevity of one's 
life to be wasted in such a barren 
pastime as five years in solitary con- 
finement. 

When he began talking about a 
comfortable married life in a civil- 
ized community, he noticed Aron 
growing distraught. 

"Why does talk of marriage so 
disturb you?" he asked. 

Aron looked at him with a sneer 
in his eyes, "You must know, you 
check your victims before you be- 
gin your Judas acts." 

With a rueful grin, the agent re- 
plied, "That is one place our agents 
can't penetrate, your Personnel 
Records Office. You, being a hard 
man to know, have made very few 
acquaintances that we could ap- 
proach to get your history." 

Silence. Then Aron said, "All 
right, here's a bone I'll toss you. 
You may use it, I don't give a 
damn! 

"My wife died five days ago on 
this planet." He said it with vehe- 
mence, probably imagining by some 
twist of thought that he was shock- 
ing, hurting the enemy agent, 
whereas he actually was deliber- 
ately shocking himself. Masochism. 

"Your wife?" the agent was 
amazed. "I didn't know your TA 
observers took wives with them." 

"I'll bet you didn't know. 
Though, most of them don't, come 

19 



to think of it." 

The agent relaxed, lighted a 
cigarette — an ancient habit that 
cropped up in all eras. 

"Men can take it," he began 
quietly. "Women are different. 
They can take it if they want to, 
but it's hard to find the right wom- 
an; and even then she must want 
to take it by being with the man 
she loves, or perhaps it is psycho- 
logical — martyring themselves to 
gain a subtle control of that man, 
which they all want to do. 

"When you get a woman who 
can't, or doesn't want to take it, 
she can pull a beautiful crack-up. 
Without friends to appreciate her 
martyrdom, with a husband who 
refuses to acknowledge it, she some- 
times uses the supreme martyrdom 
to gain recognition." 

"Instinct tells me to slug you in 
the teeth," Aron said, "but apathy 
forbids me." 

"Couldn't it be that you refuse to 
slug me because you want me to 
keep talking? Because you recog- 
nize the truth, that your wife com- 
mitted suicide because of the lone- 
liness and now your devotion to 
state has become meaningless? 
'The Lord giveth and the Lord 
taketh away' was the old maxim, 
but 'the State only taketh away' is 
the new." 

There was more talk and some 
drinking, for the agent had con- 
veniently brought some choice 
liquor. 

The next morning, after they 
had arisen from where they had 
fallen asleep in a stupor, the agent 
proposed his plan. With the dis- 
gust and despair of the hangover, 
the agent's biting attack on his 
pride and his state, Aron listened. 

20 



Later the agent was no longer the 
enemy, but a partner in a deal. 



THE NEXT week the ships 
came. Twenty-seven proud 
cruisers of the People's Republic; 
also troop and supply ships. They 
landed in the broad valley on the 
main continent of KHgor, twenty 
miles from Aron's station. 

The professional fighters emerged 
from their tools of war, the dull 
hulls of the ships and the dark uni- 
forms lapping up the pleasant sun- 
shine. The only reflection was 
from the polished bits of metal that 
hung at their sides, bits of metal 
that could spit destruction in ten 
different forms. 

They looked at the planet but 
did not see it, it was just their 
newly gained base. They did not 
see the poignant beauty of the 
seemingly senescent hills covered 
with wisps of green and bathed in 
blazing sunshine. They only saw 
strategic positions, avenues of ap- 
proach and tactical advantages. 

The pebble had become a pawn. 
War had come to Kligor, The slow, 
subtle weavings of individual 
threads of human psychology were 
ripped and snarled as the Mass 
Effort took over. 

Conferences were held, land sur- 
veyed, machinery trundled from 
the cavernous holds of supply ships 
and the base was begun. To , the 
cadence of barked orders, shuffling 
feet and grinding, pounding, 
thumping machinery, the buildings 
rose, the men moved in. 

There was the usual bustle of a 
new military operation, the normal 
tension of a top-secret operation, 
the usual bungling and mix-up of 

PATRICK WILKINS 



supplies. But there was a slightly 
different attitude toward the grad- 
ually growing base. This was not a 
standard military location, one that 
had existed for years, or an enemy 
one that had been capture, or even 
a piece of ground that had been 
paid for in blasted hulks and 
smashed bodies. 

This gain was by treason. 

Naturally then, the men felt con- 
tempt for the operation and their 
contempt was manifested in slop- 
piness. The commanding officers 
would ordinarily have become rag- 
ing martinets at such lax discipline 
and slovenliness, but the taint and 
contempt of treasonous gain was 
upon them also. 

This contempt was displayed 
openly whenever the Traitor came 
to the base. Weak egos must be 
flattered by derision of others. 
They would have killed him as a 
matter of course, if he hadn't been 
clever enough to refuse to relin- 
quish the secret codes which al- 
lowed the friendly ships to pass. 
Torture was obsolete, for hypnosis 
allowed a victim to die before he 
could reveal secret information. 

He came every week to get free 
supplies and have conferences with 
the Intelligence men. The Traitor 
would walk the freshly-laid side- 
walk boldly, his head up, his eyes 
flashing about to take in every new 
building. 

The soldiers hazed him, spitting 
at him, bumping into him, glaring 
and swearing at him ; but he always 
reciprocated with such a withering 
look of contempt that they soon 
grew tired of the sport. 

The worst day for the Traitor, 
alias Aron Myers, was when he 
went into the Soldier's Club to 

FOR EVERY AAAN A REASON 



quench his thirst of a hot day. 
Since it was a week-end and there 
was nowhere to go on what few 
week-end passes were given, the 
Club was packed. 

In the dimmed-light atmosphere, 
the black uniforms made the place 
seem filled with vagrant and omi- 
nous shadows with white faces. 
The noise was almost unbearable 
and Aron had a mind to leave. 

He was confronted by a group 
of these shadows. They were all 
the same, indistinguishable in their 
identical uniforms, crew-cuts and 
young, arrogant faces. 

"Hello Mr. Myers," one of them 
said. "Won't you join us in a 
drink?" 

When he started to demur, they 
interrupted, "But we insist, Mr. 
Myers." One took him by an arm 
and led him to a table. 

"After all," they said as the 
drinks came up, "We owe you at 
least a drink for giving us such a 
nice new base and everything, now 
don't we." It was sarcasm, and 
hammy sarcasm at that, Aron 
thought. 

He recognized the situation as 
another case of hazing, but this 
time by a group of soldiers made 
even more obnoxious and bellicose 
by the liquor in their guts. 

"You don't owe me anything," 
Aron said, "I gave it to you for my 
own reasons and not for money." 
Sure enough, they even came out 
with the corny laughter. 

He let them play out their little 
satire without protest. Their gran- 
diose courtesy towards him, the 
toasts drunk in his honor. That is, 
until one of them, more drunk than 
the others, said, "Mr. Myers, I 
hope you don't mind my telling you, 

21 



but you are a — ". The epithet was 
a new slang word but its vileness 
stemmed from prehistoric days. 

Aron replied with blazing eyes. 
"I can't insult you back and you 
know it. I don't want to be killed 
that badly. All I can say is: 

"Who are you to judge me? You 
are blind little men in a cage try- 
ing to judge someone on the out- 
side. 

"Your hearts and minds have 
been forged in the crucible of duty 
and battle. You live for your uni- 
forms and the distinction those 
uniforms bring you. You live to 
fight and die, to spend your spare 
time in dank, noisy holes like this. 
Drinking and lying to each other 
about your adventures and love- 
life. 

"Then you try to judge galactic 
politics and the decisions of a man 
caught up in the rip tides of these 
politics, when all you know is your 
own vicious lives. You are traitors 
as much as any man, for you have 
sacrificed your normal lives to dedi- 
cate yourself to the violent dead- 
end of a soldier of space. 

"Yes, you know what I am talk- 
ing about, the Fermi radiations! 
The hard radiations of space that 
make every person who stays in 
space any length of time a sure 
candidate for an early grave. 

"You're young now, so terribly 
young, only twenty or so years old 
in a possible life-span of a hun- 
dred years. 

"You are traitors to yourselves 
by rejecting this life-span for a few 
brief years of glory as a soldier, 
then a slow decay for ten years till 
you are in a grave at thirty or 
forty. 

"Your motto ought to be, 'live 

22 



fast, fight hard, die young and 
have a radiation-rotted corpse'. 

"And yet you condemn a man 
because he tries to seek a few com- 
forts from an uncomfortable, im- 
placable universe." 

They didn't get it. They never 
get it, he thought ruefully. They 
continued in their cat and mouse 
game until they realized the mouse 
refused to be terrified, then they let 
him go. 

During the next few weeks, 
someone started the rumor that the 
Traitor was actually a native of 
the People's Republic who had 
been trained and then planted in 
the United Empire's TA to do this 
job for Intelligence. The soldiers 
quickly believed it and almost came 
to respect the Traitor. 



FROM THE way that the In- 
telligence officers freely talked 
about classified information with 
him in his weekly visits, Aron was 
aware that they would probably 
kill him once his usefulness was 
over. He was devising ways, though, 
to get around that at the last 
minute. 

From this knowledge that had 
been blatantly tossed in front of 
him, he knew how strategic Kligor 
was in the stalemated war between 
the empires. 

The People's Republic now had 
a fair-sized striking force based 
there, so that when an all-out offen- 
sive, which was scheduled in a few 
weeks, started, this hidden force 
could attack United Republic's 
squadrons from the rear and be 
doubly effective because of surprise. 

So the weeks trotted by, the sol- 
diers' camp expanding daily as the 

PATRICK WILKINS 



Traitor let the supply ships through 
the barrier. There are moods in 
war just as in people. This was a 
crucial point, the People's Repub- 
lic had gained a slight edge by its 
gain on Kligor. So the usual pitch 
of anticipation was infused with 
the higher excitement of a sure 
victory. 

The days were slipping furtively 
away as the Kligor garrison gath- 
ered itself together, crouched and 
got ready to spring into blind, vio- 
lent action on the big day. 

The laughter of the soldiers was 
tinged with nervous hysteria, but 
when they thought of that grim 
array of defense satellites, with its 
all-seeing eyes, its electronic brain, 
its steel guts and large parcel of 
hell in its fist, all this United Em- 
pire strength protecting them, their 
laughter grew louder and more 
sincere. 

Aron thanked providence that 
Kligor didn't have any moons. 
This particular night called for 
every ebony patch of darkness that 
he could find. 

He was on a nocturnal visit to 
the base, not using his flier. He 
knew there were guards posted near 
his station that would notify the 
camp when this craft was used. 
Slipping out the night before and 
avoiding the guards, Aron had be- 
gun the twenty mile hike to the 
base. 

As he neared the base his pre- 
cautions increased, his speed de- 
creasing proportionately. Avoiding 
the outer ring of guards was easy, 
as they were spaced far apart. Mov- 
ing in undetected, through the 
tig^^r nets of guards around the 
camp, required the skill and pa- 

FOR EVERY AAAN A REASON 



tience of a feline. 

That this base should have foot 
soldiers patrolling the ground 
around it seemed absurd on the 
face of it, especially to the men 
who had to do it. The planet was 
uninhabited and their only worry 
was from the skies above where 
the TA satellites defended them. 

The Intelligence officers knew 
better. They knew how easily one 
man could slip through these de- 
fences. One man at a time, for 
several weeks, and a sizable ground 
force could be built up in sorne 
remote spot on Kligor. It was a 
long shot probability, but it was 
their duty to protect against such a 
probability destroying what they 
had achieved. 

There was also a traitor, one of 
those fluctuating spineless things, 
loose on the planet — a clever man 
who couldn't be trusted by anyone. 

This lack of trust was justified as 
Aron crawled and inched his way 
through the last circle of sentries. 
His whole body was a detecting de- 
vice, listening for footsteps, watch- 
ing for dim figures in the dark, 
even his nose was waiting to detect 
the odor of a cigarette. 

According to the paper he had 
been lucky enough to read in the 
Intelligence offices when they 
weren't looking, he knew the Cap- 
tain of the guards should be mak- 
ing an inspection about then. The 
seconds hung suspended, reluctant 
to pass, and Aron waited. 

The Captain finally showed up, 
walking briskly, a smile on his face. 
This smile was rudely erased and 
all future occasions for smiles re- 
moved by a swiftly moving figure 
that plunged a knife into his throat 
before his mind could translate the 



shock into a cry of alarm. 

More movement on the path and 
a new Captain of the guards 
emerged, walking just as briskly, 
but in a new direction. 

The People's Republic's base oc- 
cupied the narrow end of the val- 
ley, with a canyon entrance serv- 
ing as the apex of the triangle it 
covered. Near this apex were the 
buildings, the dozens of barracks 
and administrative buildings, all 
dwarfed by the massive concrete 
warehouses set around them against 
the hills. In these warehouses were 
the fuel, food and munitions of the 
enemy. 

Below these buildings were the 
ships, first the rows of the 27 war- 
ships and then the 40 or so cargo 
and troop ships. These supply ships 
made up the base of the triangle. 
From the air these ships looked 
like a tiny forest of needles stuck 
upright in the ground, but from 
close range on the ground, where 
Aron walked in the captain's uni- 
form, they were mammoth towers 
of steel — again, a matter of scale. 

He emerged from the sentry lines 
near the cargo ships. These were 
all sealed and unoccupied and he 
passed the rows of them without a 
glance. It was a long walk, for 
the ships were hundreds of feet 
apart. The open field where they 
rested had the rough ground of 
a meadow, making his attempted 
military stride more of a burlesque 
jerky gait while he tried not to 
stumble. 

There was a guard outside the 
airlock of each of the warships, 
for the crews remained aboard 
constantly. These guards were 
standing around talking to friends 
or moving restlessly about. 

M 



The sentries saluted Aron as he 
marched by, for they could see the 
brass on his uniform gleaming in 
the dark. He found what he 
wanted, a group of four guards 
talking by one airlock. They 
snapped to attention as he ap- 
proached. 

The base had expanded so rap- 
idly, with new units and men be- 
ing shifted constantly, that Aron 
counted on the men not knowing 
exactly who the Captain of the 
guards should be. All the sentries 
knew was the insignia of the Cap- 
tain was before them and the man 
who wore them was to be obeyed. 

His orders sent a chill of alarm 
through them. He said he had re- 
ceived a report of someone slip- 
ping through the guards and mov- 
ing among the cargo ships. Since 
the soldiers were needed to patrol, 
he wanted these men to gather all 
the warship guards together and 
search the area of the cargo ships. 

In "answer to Ae question in 
their eyes, he said he knew the 
warships would be unguarded but 
he was ordering a special detail to 
replace them immediately. 

The four dispersed and, in a few 
minutes, all of the lock guards had 
left their posts and were moving 
down to the cargo ships. 

Time was the critical element 
now. Aron had taken a terrific 
chance by donning the Captain's 
uniform, but he had pulled off the 
bluff and now he had to capitalize 
on it — fast! 

While the ship sentries were on 
their futile search, he ran from 
ship to ship, jumped into the open 
airlocks and worked quickly with 
pliers and a screwdriver. It was a 
little trick that he had learned 

PATRICK WILKINS 



from a talkative spaceman in a bar 
many years ago. It. worked oji any 
ship. Disconnect a tiny spring, cut 
a wire, and it was impossible to 
close the massive airlock door. 

Aron wanted very badly to have 
those doors stay open. 

Twenty-seven ships, hundreds of 
feet apart. He was on his last five 
when the search was abandoned 
and the sentries began returning. 
He hoped they would react nor- 
mally, taking their time, dragging 
their feet and talking to each other 
in disgust about the wild goose 
chase. 

On the last two ships he had to 
use different tactics. The sentinels 
had returned. When he walked up 
to them, they came to attention 
sullenly, waiting the chance to de- 
ride the usual stupidity of the sol- 
diers and their Captain. 

Instead, they had their throats 
cut. 

Finishing the last airlock, Aron 
then walked through the post. 
Right up the main street he strode, 
his heart in his throat but his step 
and demeanor firm. The time of 
night helped him, for there were 
few soldiers about that might rec- 
ognize him, and what few patches 
of light were thrown out from win- 
dows and doors. were quickly swal- 
lowed by the black maw of dark- 
ness. 

Up the main street, past the bar- 
racks, towards the last warehouse 
at the head of the valley. The two 
pillars of rock that marked the 
opening of the canyon served as a 
background for the massive blank 
walls of this warehouse. 

At the little door set in the cen- 
ter of the front wall there was a 
sentry. He was grumbling to him- 

FOR EVERY MAN A REASON 



self about having .to do such a 
damn-fool thing as guard a ware- 
house when there wasn't an .enemy 
within light years of the building. 

He was wrong. And the enemy 
killed him. 

Inside the warehouse, there be- 
ing no lock on the door, Aron 
groped about in the stuffy, pitch 
blackness till he came to a little fire 
station set against a wall. There 
was a locker containing an insu- 
lated suit, hatchet and other fire- 
fighting equipment, at this station. 

He donned the fire-fighting suit 
and helmet and went to one end 
of the building that was walled-off . 
In this separate room was the emer- 
gency power supply for the base. 
There was a turbine with a fuel 
supply and tiers of high-voltage 
storage batteries. There was also 
a fire hose on one wall because of 
the presence of the combustible 
turbine fuel. 

Aron had to pause for a minute 
to gather his thoughts. He had 
come so far, so fast through the 
first steps of his plan and now he 
was ready for the fi.nal action. 

What Aron now needed for suc- 
cess was three things. Sulphuric 
acid and salt water in large quanti- 
ties and the right wind. 

The first two had been thought- 
fully provided by the People's Re- 
public. The third was a matter of 
waiting. The land on Kligor was 
dry. What little water supplies were 
available weren't enough to. main- 
tain a base the size the garrison 
had built. Since the ocean was only 
fifteen miles from the valley where 
the base was located, it was a 
simple matter to pipe in water. 

One of the mammoth cargo ships 



had been loaded with six inch flex- 
ible hose, tougher than steel, 
wound on drums. It was a matter 
of a day's work to fly the ship slow- 
ly from the ocean to the base, laying 
out fifteen miles of this flexible 
pipe on the ground. 

It was salt water, then, that was 
received at the base. Most of it was 
filtered through a chemical plant 
in the valley to make fresh water, 
but it was salt water that was avail- 
able to the fire hoses for the needed 
quantity and pressure. 

The emergency power supply 
and the fire hoses were only nor- 
mal safety precautions, but now, 
in the hands of the Traitor, they 
became deadly weapons. 

By pushing the lever that re- 
moved the lids from the storage 
batteries automatically for inspec- 
tion he had sulphuric acid — for the 
law of conservation of energy said 
fhat man had achieved the highest 
efficiency of electro-chemical con- 
version, in practical form, in the 
lead acid storage battery. 

After finding the light switch 
and flipping it on, Aron found this 
lever and released it. Now all he 
needed was wind, and he had that, 
blowing a cool ten miles an hour 
down the canyon and over the val- 
ley. He had to consult the weather 
maps at his station for weeks to 
determine the probability of this 
wind occurring and the weather 
conditions that produced it. One 
small breeze to chart, when his re- 
cording instruments gave hourly 
descriptions of the whole planet's 
climate. It wasn't too hard a job. 

Yet that breeze had to be at the 
right time, at night and on the 
night he wanted. Close enough to 
the attack date to be efTective yet 



not too soon. Last night his instru- 
ments recorded the data that would 
produce this wind, so he was mak- 
ing his strike tonight. 

He could not stand and gloat 
exultantly over his success. There 
were dead sentries and sprung air- 
locks that might be discovered. 

With a twist of a nozzle, the fire 
hose came to life, throwing a puls- 
ing stream of water on the bat- 
teries. 

What Aron had done by ingenu- 
ity, luck, daring and careful plan- 
ning was finished. It was now na- 
ture's turn. 



THE NEXT night after his one 
man attack on the base, Aron 
had a visitor at his weather station. 
The visitor was in sad shape. His 
clothing was disheveled, his face 
dirty and unshaven, his eyes blood- 
shot and he seemed to be on the 
verge of a mental collapse with a 
frantic gleam to his eye. 

But he held a pistol in his hand 
and Aron didn't. 

He was an officer of the Intelli- 
gence Corps of the People's Repub- 
lic. It was not the officer who had 
first visited Aron; but one of the 
others that Aron had come vague- 
ly to know, like picking out sheep 
from a flock. 

He had been away from the base 
on a planetary reconnaissance mis- 
sion the night before. Since then 
he had gone through a nightmare 
ordeal. 

He had returned to his base to 
find sixty ships of the People's Re- 
public about to fall into enemy 
hands without a struggle, be- 
cause 200,000 men were dead or 
dying of chlorine gas poisoning. 

PATRICK WILKINS 



The gas that had come pouring 
oi^of the -warehouse at the head of 
the valltef last night. It had billowed 
down me valley, its streamers and 
tentacles- pushed by the gentle wind 
bringing the sleeping men awake 
coughing and gasping only to fall 
asleep again — permanently. 

It had seeped through the bar- 
racks, the warehouses and into the 
open airlocks of ships, while dying 
men tried frantically to close those 
locks. They wouldn't close though, 
and the spacemen died puzzled as 
to why not. 

In galactic warfare, with the 
emphasis on speed, maneuverabil- 
ity, range and power of space can- 
non, et cetera, everyone had for- 
gotten an archaic weapon — gas. 
Aron hadn't. 

After the horror of this discov- 
ery, the Intelligence officer had 
taken a flier to Aron's station. 

He was feeling justifiably sorry 
for himself and his empire's 
thwarted plans for conquest, now 
completely impossible since the 
United Empire had been notified of 
the impending attack, and since the 
most strategic part of that attack, 
the Kligor task force, had been de- 
stroyed. 

His military mind refused to ad- 
mit that one man, the Traitor, 
Aron, could have caused this tragic 



defeat. He was willing, however, to 
vent his desire for revenge on this 
one man. 

Aron was unmoved by his 
threats and denunciations. The In- 
telligence man was going to kill 
him, certainly, but the officer 
wanted to make him suffer first, to 
make him squirm. 

When one man has defeated and 
completely made fools of a galactic 
empire, killing is too simple. 

"We weren't stupid enough to 
try to coerce you with pure logic," 
the agent was saying to Aron. "We 
knew you must have a large amount 
of patriotism to even take such a 
thankless job as this Kligor post. 

"There had to be something else, 
some stronger reason to make you 
reject your empire." 

Aron watched him warily. He 
coiild tell by the malevolent gleam 
of the Intelligence man's eye and 
the sneer that he was playing a 
trump, that he had a choice bit 
of information he thought would 
hurt Aron. All Aron could do was 
listen. 

"You came here happily married 
and full of patriotic zeal," the 
armed man said. "That way you 
were no prospect for us. 

"We changed those conditions 
by a very simple act. 

"We killed your wife." 




FC5R;EVERY MAN A REASON 



^■' 



The officer watched him like a 
hungry animal, waiting for the re- 
action. 

The reaction was a pitying smile 
and the following words. 

"Why don't you sit down. I know 
you are going to kill me, there's 
nothing I can do about it and, ac- 
tually, I don't object. But I would 
like to say several things first and 
you might as well be comfortable 
while I'm talking. 

"I want to speak my piece most- 
ly to clarify my ideas before death, 
but also so that you, who will con- 
tinue to live, will be able to think 
about them in the future." 

While the agent sat down with a 
puzzled look, Aron continued, 
"That is why, when there is com- 
bat between men, it will always be 
in doubt. Even though one side 
may be outnumbered, outmaneu- 
vered and have all the military laws 
of advantage against it, that side 
can still win. 

"You have made the one mis- 
take, the perpetual mistake, of 
combat. You forgot about the psy- 
chological factor. The force that 
can make a man surrender when 
the odds are with him, or fight like 
a demon when it is hopeless. 

"So long as there is war, this psy- 
chological factor will make it an 
even, undecided combat despite all 
laws of logic. 

"The psychological factor in this 
case, the one you overlooked, was 
that I love my empire more than 
my wife. She was merely a com- 
panion. You wouldn't know that, 
or the reasons for it, unless you 
knew my whole life — and not just 
the events of my life, my whole psy- 
chological life." 

"Of course we couldn't know 

;:IS 



that," the enemy agent said, "but 
we could go on general rules of 
human behavior, and those rules 
deny the fact that a man can love 
a state more than a woman." 

"Good God!" Aron exclaimed. 
"What training do you Snooper 
boys get? You don't even know the 
rudiments of psychology. Intelli- 
gence men — ha! All you know how 
to do is steal papers, kill in the dark 
and be suspicious of everyone all 
the time." 

In a quieter tone, Aron went on, 
"It is easy to love a state like a 
woman, because a State is a woman. 

"A love for State fulfills all emo- 
tional needs. The censorship of 
yourself by your super-ego, mani- 
fested in a desire for repentance or 
masoschism, this need is effected 
by dedication such as my lonely 
watch here. 

"Your destructive tendencies, 
half of the love-hate primary drive 
of life, can be expressed by fight- 
ing and destroying an enemy. You 
can't destroy your wife because of 
laws, yet everyone wants to. 

"The other half of the ambiva- 
lent drive, your love desire can be 
committed in a platonic admiration 
or a patriotic zeal as you call it. 

"Sure, the State is a woman. It'll 
kick you around, neglect you and 
abuse you; but when she rewards 
you, she does so lavishly. And this, 
plus the self-satisfaction of having 
protected her from her enemies and 
helping her to survive — this is all 
the consumation of a love affair 
that a man could want. 

"I know, what about the physical 
love? If all your other emotional 
needs are so well satisfied, you can 
be happy without that, especially if 
you're used to it — " 

PATRICK WILKINS 



The agent interrupted. Aron 
knew he was not comprehending 
what he was saying, the man was 
still in a state of shock. But Aron 
knew the words were there, in the 
man's brain till he died. He could 
reason them out later. 

"AH right, all right," the agent 
said, "I am not here to argue phil- 
osophy. I just want to know why 
our plans failed. 

"Since your wife's death didn't 
make you disillusioned enough to be 
receptive to treason, weren't you at 
least impressed with our offers of 
fabulous wealth and release from 
this prison?" 

Aron rose from his chair and 
walked to the window. He didn't 
notice the agent and his menacing 
gun. He didn't care. 

He looked out at the lifeless sun- 
set of the world that sported the 
bare minimum of vegetation so it 
couldn't be insulted with the word 
"barren". 

"Just another case of Intelligence 
men's stupidity," Aron said so quiet- 
ly that the other man had to lean 
forward to hear. "Don't you know 
anything about your own territorial 
administration or ours? Do you 
know how they choose their men 
for these stations?" 

"No, that isn't our department," 
was the answer. 

Aron turned from the window 
and looked at him, seeming sur- 
prised to see him and hear him. 

"Well, what sort of men would 
they choose? Where could they get 
men with the intelligence and abil- 
ity required to operate one of these 
stations and cope with situations 
such as I've faced here? Where 
would they get such men to re- 
nounce the brilliant careers they 

FOR EVERY MAN A REASON 



could have amongst, civilization 
with such capabilities?" 

"Damn it! Stop playing games. 
Spill what you've got to say!" 

Aron looked at him coldly, 
searchingly, "Since you are at- 
tached to the Navy I imagine you've 
clocked many hours in space." 
When the agent nodded, Aron said, 
"Then, if you are lucky and show 
enough sense, you will become a 
TA man." 

Slowly, comprehension came to 
the Intelligence man. The gun 
clutched in his hand lowered, his 
whole body slumped as he caught 
on to the fact they had overlooked. 
The fact that caused the failure of 
their plans. The fact that was his 
grim future. 

"Fermi radiations!" Aron barked. 
"They rot your cells, weaken the 
blood, ruin the body. A man can 
spend about five years as a space- 
man, about twenty months of which 
is spent in actual space. Twenty 
months and the man is doomed. 

"If the man is smart he can be- 
come a space officer, then when he 
retires at twenty-five, he can land 
a good job with the TA. He doesn't 
want anything to do with civiliza- 
tion. That five years has made him 
love space, love isolation. So, they 
are willing to take these jobs, to be 
. put out to pasture on wayward 
planets until they die at thirty-five." 
It was said with all the bitterness 
of a condemned man. 

"What use would I have of your 
offers, even if they were true. 
When I finish, or rather, if I had 
finished my stay on Kligor, I'd only 
have a few months till I die. Your 
pleasant little cries of adventure, 
luxury, women, meant nothing. 
(Continued on page 117) 

29 



CARRY ME HOME 

Lt. Jason Jonasse had one more lesson to 
learn before duty on the Frontiers: that the 
Past and Future are one, hut it is the Future 
which demands the courage. 

BY GORDON R. DICKSON 

Illustrated by Ed Emsh 




m 



PARTIALLY, it was the youth 
of Jason Jonasse that made it 
difficult for him to understand his 
fellow man. But mainly, it was his 
background. 

His family was of the military. 
From their native city on Kilbur 
Two, during the past hundred years 
or so, had come a steady stream of 
Jonasses. Mostly, they died, in one 
way or another, while serving hu- 
manity on the Frontier of man's 
expanding spatial area. Those who 
did not, won through to advance- 
ment and posts of high honor. All, 
however, without exception, made 
the first step of transfer from the 
backwaters of military duty, earn- 
ing their right to carry their officer's 
buttons to Glass A Service in the 
Frontier Zone. 

It was this transfer that Jason 
had just received and which was 
propped now on the toilet shelf be- 
side the shaving mirror in his quar- 
ters, where he could feast his eyes 
on it during the process of trimming 
the straight black lines of his little 
mustache, with the aid of that self- 
same mirror. The mustache was an 
index of his character, so essentially 
Kilburnian, so uncompromisingly 
military, so uniquely Jonasse. It was 
the final seal upon his difference, 
the crown upon his height and the 
lean good looks of his breeds and 
the uniform of which tunic cape 
and boots were custom-tailored. 

There was no one thing about 
him which did not set him off from 
the other officers of this small mili- 
tary garrison on Aster. For this 
small lost planet out in the Beltane 
Quadrant was class C duty; and 
the other officers were Class C offi- 
cers, as Jason had been, serving his 
apprenticeship in a sort of police 



duty, until the blessed arrival of 
the transfer, welcome as a pardon 
to a life sentence prisoner. Jason 
beamed at it, working the clippers 
carefully over the ends of the mus- 
tache, for his baggage was packed 
and ready for the next courier ship 
that came and the transfer was his 
passport to the future. 

A buzzer rang through his room, 
and Jason jerked at the unexpected 
suddenness of the sound. For a 
split-second the clippers slipped, 
chopping a little, ragged v out of 
the top line of the mustache, a v un- 
fortunately beyond the ability of 
any clipping to disguise and any- 
thing but time to mend. For a mo- 
ment, Jason stared at its reflection 
in the mirror. Then he cursed, 
threw down the clippers and 
thumbed the switch of the inter- 
com. 

"Officer Five Jonasse here," he 
said. 

"Headquarters, Chief Troopman 
Basker, Sir," said the Speaker. "The 
Commandant would like you to re- 
port to his office right away, Offi- 
cer." 

"It'll be right there. Chief." 

"Right, sir." 

Scowling, Jason buttoned his 
tunic and clipped his cape about his 
shoulders. There was no good rea- 
son why the Cornmandant should 
want to see him, unless there had 
been some change in his orders di- 
recting the transfer. And if that . . . 

Jason clamped down on the 
speculative section of his mind and 
left his quarters, hurrying across 
the drill-ground to the Headquar- 
ters Building. 

Hot sunlight hit him a solid blow 
as he stepped out of the shade of his 
quarters. The Timudag, as the 



31 



plains country of Aster's one large 
continent was known, broiled dur- 
ing the summer months under a 
cloudless sky. Jason strode across 
it and stepped gratefully into the 
air conditioned coolness of the 
Headquarter's Building. 

The Commandant was waiting 
for him in the outer office. Like 
Jason, a Kilbumian, but without 
the Jonasse family tradition of 
Service, he had won little recog- 
nition during his short term of 
Frontier Class A Service ; and, hav- 
ing no prospects to speak of on re- 
tirement from that, had fallen back 
on Class C duty, where the retire- 
ment age was much higher. A thin, 
cold man, he did not particularly 
like Jason though a scrupulous 
sense of fairness forced him to ad- 
mit that the younger Kilbumian 
was far and away the most valu- 
able of his men, 

"You messaged for me, sir?" said 
Jason. 

The Commandment took Jason's 
elbow and drew him aside, out of 
earshot of the troopmen at work 
at clerical tasks about the outer 
office. "Something has come up, 
Jason." 

Jason felt cold apprehension and 
hot resentment. But he held it 
locked within him. 

"The courier ship has just ar- 
rived," the Commandant said. "It 
brought your replacement — and an- 
other man." 

The Commandant looked out the 
window and back to Jason again. 

"The other man's an officer re- 
tired from Class A Service," he 
went on. "And he carries a request 
from the General Commander of 
our Quadrant to give him every 
assistance in returning home." 

3S 



Jason looked at the Commandant 
in puzzlement. This was nonsensi- 
cal. If the man was from Aster, he 
was already home. If he was not 
from Aster, why had he come to 
Aster, to this outlying station to 
obtain assistance? 

"I don't understand," he said 
honestly. 

"His home," explained the Com- 
mandant briefly, "is in the 
Timumang." 



AT THAT, Jason began to un- 
derstand. 

North of the Timudag, on Aster's 
one large land mass, lay the Timu- 
mang, the Mountains of the People. 
Boulder-strewn upthrust of the con- 
tinental geosyncline to the north, it 
housed the degenerate descendants 
of an early abortive attempt at 
colonization, four hundred years 
before the coming of civilization 
proper to Aster. Wild and suspi- 
cious, these forgotten people had 
backslid to a clan-tribal form of 
organization. They warred on each 
other, lived off their inhospitable 
country in the course of nomadic 
wanderings, and shunned their 
latter-day cousins of the lowlands as 
if they had been plague-ridden. 

The Timumang ignored the 
Timudag. Jason had not, in his term 
of service guarding the Interstellar 
Message Station and the few raw 
little towns of the Timudag, been 
anywhere near the Mountains of 
the People. Nor, as far as he knew, 
had any of the other men at the 
station. But of course he had heard 
stories. 

There were other worlds where 
the tragic accident of too-early 
colonization had taken place, and 

GORDON R. DICKSON 



liie settlers had backslid to savagery 
or near-savagery. They were the 
cobwebbed corners that the Central 
Headquarters on Earth, like a busy 
housewife, was always planning to 
do something about and never get- 
ting to. From them, every so often, 
would come the rare case of a de- 
generate who ran away or escaped 
from his own people to join the 
ranks of civilization. Sometimes 
such men rose to respectable posi- 
tions. But the tendency of ordinary 
people was to feel some repugnance 
toward them — reminders as they 
were of the fact that the human 
race was not completely without ex- 
ception shooting up the dizzy stairs 
toward the millenium. 

"A degenerate!" Jason muttered. 

"An ex-officer," corrected the 
Commandant coldly. 

Jason felt his temper rising, but 
held it back. He returned to the 
crux of the matter. 

"I interrupted you, sir," he said. 
"Pardon me." 

"Well," said the Commandant. 
"He'll need an escort and an officer 
to command the escort." 

"You don't mean me, sir?" said 
Jason, aghast. "My orders — " 

"I've no choice," said the Com- 
mandant, irritably. "And the delay 
in your transfer needn't be fatal. 
I've got no one else I can trust with 
such a job. He won't take more than 
twenty men." 

Jason stared, incredulous. 

"You can't go into the Timu- 
mang with just twenty men," he 
said, at last. 

The Commandant snorted. 

"Come and talk to him, your- 
self," he said, turning and leading 
the way toward his private office. 
"And remember, the Commander 

CARRY ME HOME 



General requests our assistance. 
There's no dodging this." 

Bitterly, Jason followed him, the 
sour anger of the betrayed curdling 
in his stomach. Mere hours from 
shipping out, they had to sendhim 
off on a what sounded like a suicide 
mission. Not that Jason had any 
objections to dying, if the time and 
place were right — but to be possibly 
clubbed to death in what amounted 
to a backyard brawl! 

The Commandant ushered him 
in and a man sitting in one of the 
easy chairs of the office rose to 
greet them. He was a curious figure, 
as tall as the two Kilburnians, but 
so broad of shoulder and long of 
arm that he seemed much shorter. 
In the dark skin of his face, set 
above fiat, heavy cheekbones and 
beneath pronounced brows, his 
brown eyes looked out at them with 
the soft liquidity of an animal. 
There was something yielding and 
sad about him. Not guts, thought 
Jason, harshly, out of the fury of his 
resentment. No backbone. 

The Commandant was introduc- 
ing the two men. Jason shook hands 
briefly. 

"Mr. Potter, this is Officer Five 
Jason Jonasse," said the Com- 
mandant, "Jason, this is Mr. Kerl 
Potter, formerly an Officer Three." 

"Honored to meet you," said the 
degenerate. His voice was husky 
and so deep that he almost seemed 
to croon the words. 

"Pleasure is mine," replied Jason 
briefly and mechanically. "The 
Commandant tells me you think 
twenty men is a sufficient escort into 
the Timumang." 

"Yes," replied Potter, nodding. 

"Why, that isn't nearly enough 
strength," said Jason. "The average 



clan usually musters at least a hun- 
dred fighting men." 

"I know," Kerl Potter smiled, a 
warm, but deprecating smile. "I 
grew up in the Timumang — or had 
the Commandant told you?" 

He didn't have to, thought Jason, 
looking at the man with disgust and 
disfavor. Aloud he said, "Any single 
tribe would be more than a match 
for us." 

"Please " Kerl held up his 

hand. "Let me explain." 

Jason nodded, curtly. 

"I wish to get back to my own 
clan — the Potter Clan," said the 
dark man. "For that we must go 
in on foot and search, because the 
clans move constantly, and from the 
air — which would be the quickest 
way of going — there is no way to 
tell which tribe is which. They go 
to earth when they see a flyer." 

"I'll admit that—" began Jason. 

"So we must go in on foot," con- 
tinued Potter, his deep voice like 
distant summer thunder in the 
office. "We must hunt for campsites 
until we find Potter sign at one. And 
then we must trail the clan until we 
catch up with it." He paused, look- 
ing at Jason and the Commandant 
to see if they understood. 

"Now," he said, "that means we 
must go through much Timiunang 
territory. If we are too large a 
group, the word will go ahead of 
us and all clans will hide and we 
will never catch up with the Potters. 
If we are too few, the first tribe we 
meet with will destroy us. Therefore 
the solution is to have enough men 
to discourage attack, but not 
enough to frighten the clans into 
moving out of our way. When we 
have found the Potter Clan, you can 
drop me off and call for air trans- 

34 



port to pick you and the men up 
and bring you back." 

Kerl wound up the argument and 
smiled at Jason as if to soften the 
young man's opposition with good 
humor. Jason looked helplessly at 
the Commandant, who shrugged 
and looked out the window, wash- 
ing his hands of the matter. 

"Look, Mr. Potter," said Jason, 
turning back to the man and mak- 
ing an eff'ort to be reasonable. 
"These men of ours are all Class C. 
They know something of police duty 
in the towns here, and maintaining 
order generally. What they know 
about expeditioning is nothing — " 

"You can take your pick of the 
station, Jason," said the Com- 
mander. 

It was the culminating blow, the 
stab in the back. Turning to look 
at his superior officer, Jason realised 
finally that he was not to be allowed 
to avoid this expedition, nor to alter 
the conditions of it. For some rea- 
son, some intricacy of interbranch 
politicking, it had become necessary 
for the General Commander to ob- 
lige Kerl Potter and for the Com- 
mandant to oblige the General 
Commander. It struck him as sym- 
bolic. As the degenerates were a 
clog and hamper upon the progress 
of humanity, here was Kerl Potter, 
their representative, to be a clog 
and hamper upon the progress of 
Jason, representative of the out- 
seeking spirit of Man. His spirit 
bent under the blow, but pride held 
his body upright. 

"Well, thank you. Comman- 
dant," said Kerl, turning to the 
commanding officer. "I'll look for- 
ward to leaving tomorrow then." 
He turned back to Jason. "Until 
then, sir." 

GORDON R. DICKSON 



"Until then," said Jason, and 
watched him leave. When the door 
had shut behind the broad back, he 
turned once more to the Comman- 
dant. 

"This is unfortunate," said the 
Commandant, reading : his eyes. 
"But into each life some rain must 
fall, eh?" 

Damn him! thought Jason. 

"Yes sir," he replied woodenly. 



JASON picked the twenty men 
for the expedition with the same 
lack of sympathy the Commandant 
had shown in the choice of Jason, 
himself. He was curt with the 
Quartermaster, harsh with Ord- 
nance, and unfeeling toward Trans- 
portation. At the end of the day the 
expedition had been outfitted with 
brilliant organization and Jason re- 
turned to his quarters to write a 
letter to his family on Kilbur Two, 
explaining that his expected en- 
trance into the realm of glory would 
be somewhat delayed. 

"... the duty (he wrote his fa- 
ther, after the usual family well- 
wishes) is hardly one that I would 
have wished for at this time. Aside 
from the fact that I am naturally 
eager to enter on my Class A assign- 
ment at the Frontier, I do not ex- 
pect to find it pleasant to be cooped 
up, possibly for weeks, with such a 
man. Your instincts, I know, would 
cause you to advise me to treat him 
with respect for his former rank as 
an Officer Three. Ordinarily, such 
respect would be automatic on my 
part. However, this is no ordinary 
case. In the first place, he has ob- 
viously left the Service long before 
the earliest age of retirement, which 
argues a lack of courage, or at least 

CARRY ME HOME 



of character. And in the second 
place, to meet the man is to realize 
there is. nothing -at all to respect 
about him. And finally (if .any more 
were neede.d) the fact that he is 
turning his back on. the competition 
of civilized life and running back 
to hide in the stagnant safety of the 
primitive. If there is one thing that 
revolts me, it is a lack of cour- 
age ..." 

And more in that vein. By the 
time Jason had filled a couple of 
micro-reels, he was more resigned, 
if not reconciled to his task. He got 
to bed and managed to get to sleep. 

He awoke to the day's duty. The 
men were mustered on the drill field 
under the leadership of Chief 
Troopman Acy, a non-commis- 
sioned officer who had grown up in 
the foothills of the Timudag to the 
north, and whose knowledge of 
local conditions, slight as it was, 
might prove to be useful. Looking 
the detachment over, Jason had 
to admit that if any men from the 
station could do this job properly, 
these were the ones. All were fit 
professionals with more than one 
hitch to their credit and a few had 
even had some combat experience. 
Jason nodded and ordered Chief 
Troopman Acy to move them over 
to Transportation. 

Kerl Potter was waiting for them 
when they arrived, his dark figure 
a still monument of patience in the 
clear morning sunlight. A trans- 
port was waiting for them, already 
loaded with two man cars and sup- 
plies. They embarked. 

The transport flew them to a spot 
where the foothills gave way to the 
mountains. Here they landed and 
transferred all personnel and equip- 
ment to the two man cars. When all 

35 



was ready, Jason signed off the 
transport and gave the order to 
mount, taking the lead car himself, 
with Kerl in the bucket seat beside 
him. The transparent tops of the 
cars were shut and the caravan led 
off up a steep and unmarked valley 
toward a pass into the mountains. 

"Now," said Jason, turning to his 
passenger as they topped the pass. 
"Where to?" 

Kerl turned brown eyes to him 
and away and pointed out and 
ahead to where a long canyon that 
lay like a knife slash through the 
mountains, its further end lost in 
distance. 

"North," he said. "Straight north 
until we pick up sign." 

Jason nodded and turned the car 
off in the direction of the canyon. 
Like obedient mechanical sheep, 
the cars behind swung through the 
turn, each in their proper order, 
and followed him. 

It was about an hour's run to the 
beginning of the canyon. From 
there, the route they were following 
sloped down and the steep walls 
rose high and forbiddingly above 
them. Gazing at this barrenness and 
the apparent lack of life, with the 
exception of the stunted bushes 
clinging in the cracks of the boul- 
ders, Jason felt his stomach turn 
over at the thought of deliberately 
spending a lifetime, by choice, in 
such an environment. It would be 
worse than being dead. It would be 
hell without a purpose. How did 
these people live? 

"Mainly off game," said Kerl be- 
side him; and, turning with a jerk, 
Jason realized she had spoken his 
last thoughts aloud. "There's quite 
a bit of it. Wild mountain sneep 

36., 



and goats descended from stock 
the early settlers themselves brought 
in. Native species, too, of course, 
but they aren't edible. Only their 
furs are useful." 

"I see," said Jason, stifHy. 

"It's not a bad life when you're 
used to it," Kerl went on. "You'd 
be surprised, Jason — you don't 
mind me calling you Jason, do you? 
Seems foolish to be formal when 
we're cooped up like this— but if 
you like the mountains and like to 
hunt, it can come close to being 
ideal." 

Jason had meant to keep his 
mouth shut; but this last statement 
was too much. 

"Exactly," he said, bitterly, "and 
let the rest of the race take care of 
you." 

Kerl looked at him in surprise. 

"The Peoples of the Mountain 
don't ask help from others," he pro- 
tested, mildly. 

"How about the Frontier?" de- 
manded Jason. "How about the 
Class A troops that protect the 
inner worlds like this from attack 
by some inimical life form?" 

"What inimical life form?" coun- 
tered Kerl. "We've never run across 
one intelligent enough to be a 
threat." 

"That's no sign there isn't one," 
said Jason. 

"Nonsense," said Kerl, but with- 
out heat. "The Class A troops have 
only one real function and that's to 
clean up planets we want to take 
over. You know that." 

"I — " Jason realised he was get- 
ting into the sort of argument he 
had promised himself to avoid. He 
bit his tongue and closed his mouth. 
Two seconds more and he would 
be telling this man what he thought 

GORDON R, DICKSON 



of degenerates in general. 

"The mountaineers are a sturdy 
self-sufficient people," Kerl went 
on. "They even have a few virtues 
that are largely lacking in the out- 
side world." 

"Virtues!" said Jason. 

His hard-held temper was about 
to snap when an interruption oc- 
curred that saved him from himself. 
From nowhere there was suddenly 
the sound of thin, crescendoing 
screams. Something slapped with 
sickening violence against the trans- 
parent cover of the car, leaving a 
small grey smudge; and half a sec- 
ond later came the sound of a dis- 
tant report. 

"What was that?" Jason snapped. 

Kerl pointed away and up to the 
high rim of the canyon where a 
tiny plume of white smoke rose 
lazily in the still air. 

"They're shooting at us," he said. 
"They use chemical firearms, you 
know, with solid missile projectiles. 
We've moved into the area of one 
of the clans." 

Jason's hand shot toward the in- 
tercom button that would activate 
the speakers in all the cars behind 
him. Kerl caught his fingers before 
they could activate the mike. 

"Let it go," he said. "That was 
just a warning to make sure we keep 
traveling. If they meant to attack 
they wouldn't give themselves away 
by shooting from a distance." He 
pointed at the smudge on the over- 
head transparency. "No harm to it. 
The plastic is missile proof." 

Jason looked at him icily for 
a minut« then continued to reach 
for the intercom. His fingers 
touched the button. 

"All cars," he said, into the roike. 
"Keep your tops up. There'll be 

CARRY ME HOME . . 



sporadic shooting at us from now 
on. 

Kerl smiled a little sadly, and 
looked away, into the distance of 
the canyon, winding out of sight 
ahead. 



FOR A WEEK they searched, al- 
ways headed north. They trav- 
eled by day, barracking at night, 
sentries posted, and sleepers locked 
in their individual cars. By night, 
the stars glittered, cold and frosty 
and distant, far above the jagged 
tops of the mountains; and every 
rattle and slither of falling stone 
made the sentries jerk nervously 
and grab their power rifles in sweat- 
dampened hands. 

By day it was better only because 
of sunlight and company. The 
eleven cars jolted and rocked their 
way down one valley and up the 
next, moving in single file. From 
time to time they would run across 
the cold ashes and litter of an aban- 
doned clan campsite and halt for a 
few minutes while Kerl prowled 
about it, sifting the ashes with his 
finger, sniffing like a huge black 
bear at any discarded, equipment. 
Then they would rebark and be 
moving again. 

Every so often from the cliff tops 
above them would spurt a little puff 
of grey smoke and seconds later 
would come the report of a chemi- 
cal energy missile JBrearm and the 
whack and scream of a solid slug 
as it bounced off the transparent 
cover of one of the cars. The shoot- 
ing ground on the nerves, a con- 
stant reminder of the unseen, inimi- 
cal, mountain dwellers waiting just 
out of sight and reach for something, 
to happen to the detachment, 

37 



It was hard on the nerves of the 
men of the detachment. And it was 
hard on Jason, chafing at the bit to 
be free of this degrading duty, faced 
with the responsibility of holding 
untested troops to their work, and 
forced to live cheek by jowl with a 
man whom training and his own in- 
clinations forced him to despise. 

It was a situation with explosive 
potentials. And the first touch of 
violence brought these out into the 
open. 

On their seventh day out and 
some nine hundred miles north and 
slightly west of the point at which 
they had entered the Timumang, 
they were proceeding down a long 
narrow valley. To the left, a small 
stream marked their road for them, 
clear water singing down the nar- 
row, level throat of the valley. Be- 
yond it, a series of slopes faded up 
and back to the skyline. To the 
right, the cliffs rose more steeply, 
sharp, pitching angles rubbled with 
boulder and sharp-cornered loose 
rock. Jason had been guiding the 
caravan of cars as usual, his hands 
on the controls, his mind a dozen 
light years off on the Frontier and 
the job he had yet to do there. 

Abruptly he felt a hand on his 
arm. 

Yanked abruptly back to the 
present and the Timumang, he 
turned with no great pleasure to 
see Kerl staring at him with a frown 
line deep-graven between the brown 
eyes. 

"What is it?" said Jason. 

"I've got a hunch," answered 
Kerl. His deep voice filled the in- 
terior of the little car with hollow 
sound. "I think we ought to turn 
back." 

"Turn back?" echoed Jason. 

38 



"This valley," said Kerl. "I don't 
like it. I don't like the feel of it. 
We could go back and take another 
one. 

Jason throttled down the speed 
of the car but kept it moving for- 
ward. 

"Now let's get this straight," he 
said, impatiently. "You don't think 
we ought to go any farther down 
this valley. Why?" 

"We may be attacked," answered 
Kerl. "We haven't been shot at for 
some hours now. That's a bad sign." 

"Couldn't we be traveling 
through an area where there are 
no people?" 

"Could be," admitted Kerl. "But 
I've got this hunch — " 

Jason considered, keeping his face 
blank. On the one hand, the man 
beside him was supposed to know 
these mountains. On the other 
hand, the little knowledge he had 
so far gained of the mountaineers 
had given him a kind of contempt 
for them. 

"Tell me," said Jason abruptly, 
"have you any definite reason for 
warning us out of this valley? Any 
— " he stressed the word slightly — 
"real evidence?" 

"No," said Kerl. 

"We'll go on," Jason said flatly. 

The detachment proceeded with- 
out trouble. As they approached the 
far end of the valley, it became too 
narrow for two of the cars abreast. 
Abruptly, Kerl shot out an arm 
and skidded the car to a halt. Be- 
hind them the rest of the detach- 
ment slammed brakes to keep from 
piling up. 

"What now?" demanded Jason, 
exasperated. 

"I was right. Look—" Kerl 
pointed directly ahead to a low 

GORDON R. DICKSON 



mound of stones that half-blocked 
the route. "A food cache. The tribe 
around here has been on a hunting 
sweep." 

"What's that got to do with us?" 
demanded Jason. "We don't want 
their food." 

"But they don't know that," said 
Kerl. 

Jason looked at him; and the 
thought crossed his mind that the 
other man was pushing his point 
home out of sheer stubbornness. It 
bolstered his belief that there was 
a cowardly streak in Kerl. 
* "We'll go forward," he said. "If 
trouble comes, it'll be time enough 
to turn back." 

"I don't — " said Kerl; and sud- 
denly his face twisted in alarm. He 
thrust out with both hands, slam- 
ming home the throttle and acti- 
vating the intercar communicator. 

"Forward! Full speed!" he yelled. 
And, Jason, slammed back in his 
seat by the acceleration, had just 
time to grab for the steering bar as 
the little car leaped forward. 

As he shot past the cache, the 
reason for Kerl's actions became 
horribly apparent. High up the 
steep slope to the right the top of 
the cliff seemed to be bowing for- 
ward like the head of an old man 
and crumbling slowly and ma- 
jestically into a thousand pieces. 
Distance lent it a gentle air as if 
the whole process was taking place 
in slow motion, but Jason realized 
suddenly with a sickening sense of 
shock that thousands of tons of rock 
were in that landslide, tumbling 
down upon him and upon the de- 
tachment that was his responsibility. 
With no time for cursing fate or 
bawling orders, he hung grimly to 
the controls of the car and prayed 

CARRY ME HOME 



that the men behind him had fol- 
lowed. 

For an agonizingly long time it 
seemed that they would make it. 
And finally, when the dust and the 
rattle of smaller stones closed about 
them, it proved impossible to tell. 
At that moment a huge rock came 
springing out of nowhere at Jason's 
car, and he felt a terrific blow that 
flung him into darkness. 



LATE THAT night, after two 
dead troopers had been buried 
in the shattered frame of one of the 
cars, Kerl went hunting Jason. 

He found the young officer stand- 
ing off by himself, wrestling with 
his devils in the darkness. It is not 
easy at any time, but particularly 
the first, to have to face the fact 
that an arbitrary decision of yours 
has cost two men their lives. And 
this becomes worse when there is 
ground for self -blame in the reasons 
behind that decision. Rightly or 
wrongly, Jason believed, and would 
go on believing for the rest of his 
days, that his dislike of Kerl had 
killed two men. He was not particu- 
larly glad, therefore, when Kerl 
loomed up out of the darkness be- 
side him. 

"Well?" he said. 

"The men are pretty well bedded 
down," replied Kerl. "I thought 
you'd like to know. They've got the 
last car fixed, so we can go on with 
nine of them, tomorrow." 

They stood in silence for a little 
while. 

"I know how you're feeling," 
volunteered Kerl, finally. 

"Do you?" said Jason, savagely. 

"I did the same thing myself 
once," said Kerl. "Shortly after I 

39 



'Was taien into Class A Service. T 
was on Kelmesh and I thought I'd 
save time by fording a river. It was 
shallow enough and the water was 
clear enough, but there was more 
current than I thought and I 
hadn't the foresight to rope the men 
together. I lost five troopers." 

Jason said nothing. 

"You'd better come back inside 
the ring of cars," said Kerl. 

Jason looked up at the cliff. And 
then, just at that moment, the moon 
crept into sight, bathing the whole 
long valley suddenly in silvery lus- 
ter. And in that same split second, 
born almost it seemed of the light 
itself, came a long, keening, waver- 
ing cry, that quivered out alone 
over the valley for a minute and 
then was taken up by many voices 
in something half-song, half-wail. 

Jason halted as if struck. 

"What's that?" he said, staring at 
Kerl. 

The dark man's face in the bright 
moonlight was etched and hollowed 
by mysterious shadows. He looked 
off at the hills. 

"There was some shooting while 
you were unconscious," he an- 
swered. "One of the men evidently 
hit and killed the clan's head. 
That's the lament for a chieftain." 

They turned in silence and went 
back to the cars. The voices fol- 
lowed, crying on their ears. 

The men in the cars were somber 
and quiet as they broke camp the 
next morning. Once they were mov- 
ing, their little car trundling up out 
of the valley to head into the next 
one, Kerl spoke to Jason. 

"Things may start occurring to 
the men," he said. 

"Things?" repeated Jason, sharp- 

40 



ly. "What things?" 

"That if I was out of the way, 
they could start back to the low- 
lands." 

Jason stared at him. 

"What?" he said, half-unable or 
unwilling to believe he had heard 
right. 

"Don't look so shocked," said 
Kerl. "It's a natural reaction." 

"These troops are completely 
trustworthy!" Jason felt his face 
warming with anger. 

Kerl shrugged and looked away, 
out front at the barren cliffs. 

"It's something to think of," he 
said. "It's important to me to reach 
my destination." 

Jason felt words coming to his 
lips. He tried to check them, but the 
pressure inside him was too great. 

"More important than men's 
lives?" 

Kerl turned to face him again. 
His features were unreadable. 

"To me," he said, "yes." 

For what seemed a very long mo- 
ment they seemed to sit poised, star- 
ing at each other. Then Kerl said, 
very softly: 

"You don't understand." 

"No," said Jason. 

"Tell me," said Keri. "What do 
you intend to do with your life?" 

"I am a career officer," answered 
Jason stiffly. 

"Serving humanity on the Fron- 
tier, eventually, no doubt?" 

"Of course." Effort kept Jason's 
voice level. "I was ready to leave 
for the Frontier when you arrived." 

"And I held up your transfer," 
said Kerl, thoughtfully. 

Jason could think of no rejoinder 
to this that would not be explosive; 
and so said nothing. 

"Each to his own," Kerl went on, 

GORDON R. DJCKSON 



after a pause. "I was a Frontier offi- 
cer myself, as I said. On Kelmesh." 

It was the one weak spot in the 
armor of Jason's resentment. This 
man was a former officer. To Jason 
the words implied the very opposite 
of all that the word degenerate im- 
plied. He felt his fury ebb with a 
rush leaving him floundering in un- 
certainty. 

"I don't understand you," he 
said helplessly. "I don't understand 
you at all." 

The new valley dipped abruptly 
before them and Jason found that 
all the attention of his eyes was re- 
quired to guide the car. 

"Let me tell you about myself," 
he heard Kerl say. 

"I was a chief's son," said Kerl. 
"I am still, for that matter, for there 
is nothing that can take that away 
from you. If my father has died 
while I was gone I am chieftain; 
my people will offer their hands to 
me as if I had never been away. 
But I am also a deserter." 

"Deserter," murmured Jason, 
finding the military ring of the word 
odd in context with the mountain 
people. 

"Deserter," repeated Kerl, 
strangely, as if for him the word 
had some hidden, personal mean- 
ing. "I ran away. I wanted to go 
down to the lowlands. I wanted to 
go to civilization and become fa- 
mous. Not that being famous in it- 
self was important. It was what it 
stood for. I wanted to leave my 
mark on the race." 

"So you ran away?" 

"We were camped one day near 
the southern foothills. My father 
had refused permission for about 
the thousandth time. That night I 
went. Three days later I was wear- 



ing a uniform back at your station 
there. That was twenty years ago. 
I was fourteen years old." 

Jason shot him a glance of 
shocked surprise. 

"You were in the Service for 
twenty years?" he asked. 

Kerl shook his head. 

"I put in three years and saved 
my money. Then I took off toward 
the frontier as a civilian pioneer. I 
bounced from new planet to new 
planet, doing everything — mines, 
timber, weather, construction. It 
was a rough life, but I liked it. It 
was like home." 

He means the Timumang, 
thought Jason, looking bewildered- 
ly at the bleak mountains. 

"Then one day I woke up. I was 
twenty-eight and I hadn't even 
started to do the things I wanted to 
do. I hadn't left my mark on the 
progress of civilization, but it had 
left its mark on me. Suddenly all 
the wishing dreams I'd had as a 
boy came back. I just had to build 
something permanent and lasting 
that would be my own." 

He paused. 

"I went to Kelmesh," he said. 
He turned his head to look at Jason. 
"You've heard of Kelmesh?" 

Jason nodded. 

"A good world," said Kerl, his 
voice thoughtful as if he was half- 
talking to himself. "A fine world. 
Sweet water and clean air and all 
the natural resources. Nothing but 
little harmless life-forms as far as 
we could see. Everything was beau- 
tiful. I looked at Kelmesh and I 
told myself that here was where I 
would make my mark and finish my 
days. Someday Kelmesh would have 
schools where history was taught. 
And near the beginning of that his- 

GORDON R. DICKSON 



tory would be the name of Kerl 
Potter." He sighed, a thin husk of 
a sound. 

"I went to work," he said. "Peo- 
ple were pouring into Kelmesh in 
those first couple of years after the 
planet was cleared and opened up. 
I bought land. I bought into the 
new towns and started things — an 
ore processing plant here, a tool 
factory there. I backed prospecting 
expeditions, and news services and 
everything else that I had the time 
or finances for." He looked down at 
his big hands in his lap with some- 
thing like satisfaction. "I got a lot 
done." 

"I suppose you made money," 
said Jason, thoughtlessly. 

"Oh, I made it, all right," said 
Kerl. "But I ploughed it back in, 
every cent of it, as fast as I got my 
hands on it. It was history I was 
really after. And I made it, too, un- 
til the hordes came." 

"Locusts, weren't they?" asked 
Jason, his eyes on the ground as he 
guided the little car through a small 
scattered forest of huge boulders. 

"No," said Kerl, "they just re- 
sembled them in their life habits. 
Like the seven year (is it seven 
years?) locust. Millions of eggs were 
buried as much as ten feet under- 
ground. Every forty years they 
worked their way to the surface as 
worms and came out as little, hop- 
ping creatures as big as a small frog. 
Then they grew. They swelled up to 
the size of a grown sheep and 
spread out by the millions all over 
Kelmesh and devoured everything." 

His voice stopped on a flat note. 

"Everything," he repeated. 

Jason had the good sense to 
keep his mouth shut. After a little 
bit, Kerl went on again. 

GARRY ME HOME 



"The colonists ran," he said. 
"God, I didn't blame them. Homes, 
lands, the grass, the trees, every- 
thing up to and including the cloth- 
ing they wore was meat for the 
hordes. But I hated them for it. I 
stood on the spaceport landing 
stage with a silicoid jumper over 
what was left of my clothing and 
a thermite gun in my hand and 
cursed the last ship out of sight." 

"You didn't leave?" asked Jason, 
incredulously. "I thought every- 
body left." 

"Not I," said Kerl. "And not 
some others. It took us about two 
weeks to find each other for we 
were scattered all over the planet. 
But at the end of that time there 
were sixty of us gathered together 
in what was left of Kelmesh's gov- 
erning city hall. Sixty-odd lousy, 
dirty, hungry men, with just one 
thought in common: that the 
hordes might chew the planet to 
the bone this time aroimd, but the 
next generation wasn't going to live 
to boast about it." 

The fierce note on which Kerl 
ended rang through the little car. 
He stopped, as if abashed by it, 
and then went on in a mild voice. 

"They live for five years, you 
know," he said, "and lay their eggs 
at six week intervals all during that 
time. They don't all lay at once, 
either. A bunch go ofT somewhere 
by themselves and bury themselves 
alive. The body of the parent is 
food for the grubs when they 
hatch." 

Jason shivered. 

"Well, our first plan was to take 
to the air and track down a group 
that was about to lay and inciner- 
ate it. The first few months we 
tried it. Then we woke up to the 

43 



fact that the Job was too big and 
started just tracking them down 
and marking the laying areas. 
When the hordes began to split 
up and the individuals began to 
spread all over the place, we finally 
yelled for help. By that time we 
were down to about eighteen men." 

Jason glanced sideways at him 
in surprise. Kerl caught the look. 

"Lack of food," he explained. 
"Long hours in the air. Men would 
go asleep at the controls and crash. 
On foot you couldn't count on 
lasting very long. A human be- 
ing's organic, and anything organic 
suited their appetites. 

"We messaged our story out to 
the nearest Message Relay Station. 
Three months later a spruce Fron- 
tier Cruiser dropped down on our 
spaceport. I was there to meet it 
with two other men. A neatly tai- 
lored little commandant came down 
the landing ramp and looked me 
over. 

" 'Where is everybody?' he 
asked." 

" 'Dead; I said." 

"He looked at me as if I was pull- 
ing some kind of joke on him." 

" 'Well, come on inside/ he said. 
'We'll fix you up with some food 
and clothes.' 

'"The hell with food and 
clothes,' I said. 'Give us thermite 
recharges for the guns.' 

"He peered at me. 

" 'You're out of your head, 
planter,' he said. And I took a 
swing at him and woke up in the 
ship's hospital two days later. 

"Well, they wanted to send us 
back to civilization, but none of the 
three of us would go. So we com- 
promised all around by having- us 
sign on as Frontier Special Troops. 

44, 



Then the war began. 

"It wasn't what Sector Head- 
quarters ten light years away had 
thought it would be. It wasn't even 
what I thought it would be. It was 
worse. The whole thing tied in with 
the evolution process of these crit- 
ters. They had no natural enemies, 
so they weeded each other out on a 
survival of the fittest basis. Within 
a few months after they came out 
of the ground — inside half a year 
at the latest — they'd cleaned up 
everything else worth eating. That 
meant the only source of food was 
— each other. 

"Sounds good, doesn't it?" Kerl 
smiled briefly at Jason, "Sounds as 
if they were helping us along in 
our extermination program? But it 
turned out that this process had 
bred some intelligence into thern 
and with that intelligence, the abil- 
ity to learn- — fast. 

"They had no use for brains 
when the whole planet was one big 
dinner table. But when the nurn- 
bers began to thin out — when they 
were down to the last few millions 
of them — intelligence began to 
show up. 

"First, they took to cooperating. 
Each little group began to show 
signs of internal organization. Then 
the groups began to work together, 
and we woke up to the fact that the 
critters were fighting back; what 
had started out as a fumigating 
project had turned into a war." 

Kerl broke off suddenly to stare 
intently out the transparent front 
of the car. The seconds lengthened 
into minutes, and finally Jason 
spoke. 

"What, is it?" he demanded. 

"Potter sign, I think," said Kerl. 
"A campsite about five hundred 

GORDON R, DieKSeU 



yards ahead. Drive on up to the 
foot of that big rock and halt the 
detachment." 



THE SIGN was Potter sign. Kerl 
toured the area of the camp, 
like a hunting animal, running the 
cold ashes from the cooking fires 
through his fingers, and raking 
through the discarded litter around 
them. His investigation kept him 
occupied until noon, so the midday 
meal was eaten where they stood. 
They pushed on after lunch, cov- 
ering another fifty miles before 
night brought them to a stop. 

The going was slower now, for 
Kerl was forced to watch the 
ground and the rocky walls closely 
to make sure that they were staying 
on the Potter trail and not drifting 
off on the track of some other clan 
that might have crossed or paral- 
leled the same route. Consequently, 
there was no further chance for 
conversation between him and Ja- 
son and it was not until , that eve- 
ning that Jason had an opportunity 
to draw him aside. 

They sat down in their car and 
closed the top — ^^that being the Only 
meager means to privacy the situa- 
tion afforded. 

"How much farther before we 
catch up with them?" asked Jason. 

"Not far," replied Kerl. His voice 
seemed to have grown old and 
weary since the morning. "Say 
thirty miles. We should catch up 
with them tomorrow afternoon." 

"Good," said Jason, 

They sat in silence for a little 
while, each occupied by his own 
thoughts. Finally Jason broke the 
pause. 

"You were telling me about KeK 

CARRY ME HOME 



mesh earlier today — " 

"Oh — yes," said Kerl, abruptly, 
like someone whose thoughts are 
suddenly recalled from a great dis- 
tance. "I was. Well— right now I'm 
a little tired. If you don't mind — " 

"Of course," replied Jason 
promptly. He threw back the lid of 
the car and stepped out. "Good 
night." 

"Good night," said Kerl, from 
the interior shadows of the car. 

Jason did not feel like sleeping. 
He had always been a straightfor- 
ward man, as honest with himself 
as nature permitted. He believed 
thoroughly in the solid universe 
that he knew. It contained space 
and the human race, whose mani- 
fest destiny it was to occupy space. 
Occasionally, among the teeming 
hordes of mankind emerged those 
who perceived this destiny. These 
went out and dedicated themselves 
to it. The rest lived and bred in 
happy ignorance. To them, no 
blame, but no glory. 

But among the dedicated — By 
no possible stretch of the imagina- 
tion could Jason imagine a man 
who saw the light, followed it, then 
turned his back on it, and went 
again to dwell in darkness. What 
flaw in the ideal of man's manifest 
destiny could prompt such an ac- 
tion? The thought was very disturb- 
ing to Jason. After all, this was the 
ideal he was probably going to get 
himself killed for — unless good luck 
and skill preserved him. 

Jason could no longer write Kerl 
off as a man basically lacking in 
courage and the virtues that the 
frontier demands. Jason had read 
and heard enough about Kelmesh 
to recognize that the other man 

45 



was speaking the truth. Had Kerl's 
nerve finally broken under those 
conditions? Jason could not believe 
it. There was nothing broken about 
the big, dark man. 

What then? Pacing the narrow 
circle of the camp, Jason looked 
up at the stars and did not know 
the answer. 

But he would find out tomorrow, 
before Kerl parted company with 
them for good — ^he made himself 
that promise. 



MORNING came bright and 
sudden. A little of the sparse 
rain that fell upon these moun- 
tains had fallen during the night, 
and the rocks around them were 
dark and had a damp smell that 
began to fade quickly as a thirsty 
sun licked up the moisture through 
the dry air. Camp was struck, and 
the circle of cars took up the trail 
again in customary file. 

For four hours, the going was 
the same as it had been the day 
before, the detachment crawling 
along slowly, with Kerl in the lead 
car tensely scrutinizing the ground 
for sign. They crossed out of the 
valley and into another that ran 
parallel for some twenty miles. 
This at a point where the moun- 
tains split three ways, Kerl called 
a halt. 

He got down from the lead car 
and began to examine the little 
open area where the four valleys 
came together. For some time he 
combed the area minutely, eyes 
bent on the rock at his feet; 
long arms_ daiigling loosely from 
hunched shoulders, so that he 
looked almost more ape than hu- 
man from a distance. Finally, he 

•46 



returned to the car where Jason 
waited. - ■: 

"There," he said, pointing to the 
rightmost of the three new valleys 
as he climbed into the car. "And 
about thirty miles off. I know 
where they're headed, now." 

Jason looked at him; then closed 
the open top of the car and gave 
the order to move out over the in- 
tercom. They rolled ahead between 
the rocky walls that had been 
steadily about them since the be- 
ginning. 

In his bucket seat in the car, 
Kerl leaned back and sighed, rub- 
bing one big, square-fingered hand 
across his eyes. 

"A strain, that trackmg, I sup- 
pose," said Jason. 

Kerl turned to look at him. He 
managed a tired grin. 

"I'm out of practise," he replied. 
"Too much being done for me by 
gadgets has spoiled the senses." 

His eyes had wandered off to 
look at the mountains. Now he 
brought them back again to Jason. 

"You've done a good job for 
me," he said. "I'm grateful." 

"My duty — " said Jason, with a 
little deprecating shrug. He half- 
turned to look at the other man. 

"Can I ask you a question?" he 
said. 

"Go ahead," Kerl told him. 

The strict Kilburnian ethics of 
Jason's upbringing fought a mo- 
mentary, short and silent battle 
with his curiosity and lost. 

"Why are you going back?" he 
asked. 

Jason could see the sharp barb 
of his question strike home. Kerl 
did not answer. And, as the sec- 
onds slipped past and were lost in 
silence, he began to think that he 

GORDON R. DICKSON 



had, indeed, stepped beyond the 
bounds of all propriety and right. 
And, then, just as he was about to 
apologize, words did come from 
the other man. 

"You asked me to tell you about 
the rest of what happened to me 
on Kelmesh," said Kerl. 

"I — yes," replied Jason. "Yes, I 
did." 

"I'll tell you now," said Kerl. 
"You've heard what it was like, no 
doubt." 

"I had a cousin who came in on 
the tail end of it," said Jason. "I 
read some letters from him." 

"A lot of men died," Kerl spoke 
softly, "more men than I could ever 
have imagined dying in one place 
at one time. That's why I earned 
rank so quickly. They discharged 
me as an Officer Two, but I was 
acting Commandant for the last 
six months." 

"You know," Jason said, "I have 
trouble understanding how crea- 
tures like that, even with a little in- 
telligence, could stand up to our 
war equipment so long, and cause 
such trouble." 

Kerl chuckled a little bitterly, 
"Sector Headquarters had trouble 
understanding it, too. But then, 
they weren't on the planet." 

Jason blinked at such open crit- 
icism of the Frontier's military 
leadership. Kerl went on: 

"It was easy enough to under- 
stand when it was under your nose. 
There were two reasons. One was 
that we were not fighting a war, 
we were conducting an extermina- 
tion project, in which all of those 
critters had to be killed off. The 
second was that we couldn't de- 
fend, we had to attack. Impose 
those conditions on men fighting in 

CARRY ME HOME 



what amounted to a wasteland, and 
what did you have? 

"You had small patrol action and 
nothing but small patrol action. 
There was so much ground to be 
covered and so many of the things 
to be killed. You called in your 
junior officers and lined them up in 
front of a map and drew out their 
routes for them. Then out they 
went to make their patrols on foot 
— on foot, mind you, because the 
critters buried themselves in the 
ground during the daytime and 
even in a two man car you'd drive 
right over them. 

"They'd take off—" Kerl's eyes 
had grown bleak and distant, see- 
ing again the bitter plains of his 
memories. " — extended in a skir- 
mish line, looking for spots where 
the earth was loose. And when they 
found one, they'd dig it out and 
incinerate it, unless it woke up first 
and got away before the thermite 
charges could cripple it enough to 
make escape impossible. 

"When night came the men 
would bivouak arid dig in, with 
their guns charged and port- 
able searchlights illuminating the 
ground all around them. And 
they'd try to sleep- — but the night 
would be one long battle. 

"Nothing kept the critters away. 
The searchlights even attracted 
them — but what could you do? 
The men needed light to shoot by, 
and some warning when they came. 
For they came at top speed. They 
must have been crazy mad with 
hunger, during this period when 
there was nothing for them to live 
on but each other and us. One 
would spot the light and come up 
quietly, then suddenly charge in as 
fast as it could. And they could 

47 



move fast. The idea seemed to be 
to pick up a man and carry him off 
into the darkness. 

"Sometimes, two or three would 
work together and we'd have them 
charging at once. The horrible 
thing was, there was a sort of 
instinct in them that made them 
try to continue eating even when 
they were dying. If they grabbed 
a man and couldn't make it out of 
the circle, they still tried to make 
a meal of him, even while being 
burned by the gun charges. 

"Their notion of fighting was 
just to start eating their enemy. In 
fact, fighting and feeding was the 
same thing. In the beginning the 
losses from night attacks were fan- 
tastically high. But after a while we 
began to keep them down to a 
minimum. The men kept their 
lives, but they lost their nerve — " 

This was so close to what Jason 
had been thinking about Kerl him- 
self the night before, that the young 
officer started involuntarily. Kerl, 
however, went on without noticing. 

" — and cracked. And the com- 
monest form of cracking was to 
blow up some night when the pa- 
trol was dug in, to jump out of the 
hole you had dug and go running 
off into the darkness to hunt down 
the critters that were prowling out 
there. That waiting — " Kerl shud- 
dered, " — it was bad. Sooner or 
later, the men would lose their self- 
possession and go to meet them 
halfway." He turned to look at 
Jason. "They estimate around a 
hundred thousand men were lost 
that way." 

"A hundred thousand!" Even 
Jason's military-conditioned mind 
was shocked by the number. "But 
not all of them. Not — "his tone was 

4i 



almost accusing, — ^"not you." 

"No, not me," said Kerl. He 
sighed. "I was the exception — the 
freak. It bothered me, but I lasted 
through five long years of it. I even 
kept other men from cracking up 
as long as they were with me. Noth- 
ing particular I did — ^just knowing 
I was around seemed to brace 
them." 

Jason stared at him. 

"But that was marvelous — wasn't 
it?" he said. "I mean, they could 
study you and find out what was 
needed to keep other men from 
cracking up. You could turn your- 
self into Service Research and. . ." 
his voice faltered, died before a 
supposition so monstrous that it 
overwhelmed him. Finally he put it 
into words. "You aren't — that isn't 
what you're running away from?" 

Kerl laughed. 

"Nothing so melodramatic," he 
said. "Research didn't even wait for 
the business to finish on Kelmesh 
before pulling me back to Earth. 
They tested me and worked me 
over and scratched their heads and 
finally came up with an answer. In 
plain words, what was happening 
was that the civilized man of to- 
day was many times as susceptible 
to the emotional strains of war as 
his remote ancestor. It was a mat- 
ter of environment — what the psy- 
chologists called having a 'wider 
mental horizon'." 

"But what are they going to do 
about it?" asked Jason. 

"There isn't too much they can 
do," said Kerl soberly. "There are 
two obvious solutions. One is to re- 
turn to the environment of eight- 
eenth — nineteenth century Earth, 
which is impossible. The other is 
to freeze the present enviromnent 

GORDON R. DICKSON 



long enough for the human race to 
mature up to it. Which is unpalat- 
able and which people won't stand 
for." 

"Of course not!" cried Jason. 
"Why, that'd be ridiculous! It— 
it'd be fantastic. To hold up our 
proper and necessary expansion for 
a little problem like that. The hu- 
man race solves problems — it 
doesn't knuckle under to them." 

A shadow passed across Kerl's 
face for an instant, saddening it. 

"You're right," he said. "The 
race does." 

"There must be some practical 
steps they can take," continued 
Jason. "Some conditioning process, 
or such." 

Kerl shrugged. 

"Some factors seem to help a 
little," he said. "You may have 
wondered why you've been held in 
Class C duty so long when it's 
usual to promote to Class A Fron- 
tier posts fairly quickly." 

"They have been slow with me," 
frowned Jason. 

"And with a lot of others in your 
class," said Kerl. "That's one of the 
little things that seems to help some 
— a longer tour of garrison work." 

"Look here!" said Jason. "I'm 
not liable to crack up. My mental 
health is excellent." 

"A fresh water fish," replied 
Kerl, "can be in fine shape. But put 
him in salt water and he sickens 
and dies." 

"But this is all backward!" ex- 
ploded Jason. "You're supposed to 
have come through on Kelmesh. 
To you that environment should 
have been much more of a shock 
than to a man like me — I take new 
and different worlds for granted. I 
grew up with an open mind. Why, 

CARRY ME HOME 



if what you say is true, then these 
mountain people of yours — " 

He broke off abruptly, a realiza- 
tion taking startling form in his 
mind. In the little silence that fol- 
lowed, Kerl's voice answered him. 

"It is the opposite from what you 
might expect," he said. "Early in 
the beginnings of psychology, men 
began to notice that some primitive 
peoples were amazingly well ad- 
justed. Not all primitive peoples, 
of course. The majority ran the 
scale from bad to worse. But a 
few stood out." 

"But you can't scrap civiliza- 
tion!" cried Jason, desperately. 

"I don't know," answered Kerl. 
"Can't you? I can't. You can't. No 
government or controlling power 
can — or wants to. Maybe we won't 
have to. But when Research dug 
into the matter they came up with 
some funny answers. For instance 
— the individual has a survival in- 
stinct. They've known that for a 
long time. Now they think the race 
has one, too." 

"Of course," said Jason. "Sur- 
vival of the fittest — " 

"No," said Kerl. "Think of the 
race as a single individual with in- 
stincts. And one of the instincts is 
not to put all his eggs in one bas- 
ket." 

Jason merely looked puzzled. 
Again, that shadow crossed Kerl's 
face, shading his eyes with an ob- 
scure pain. 

"Never at any time," Kerl said, 
"have all the people been all alike. 
Some were more one way than 
another. Geographical accident, 
they used to think — and of course 
it was, largely. But there's a real 
instinctive tendency for groups to 
be different, even as there is for 

49 



the individual to be different— and 
for the same reason, survival. It 
wouldn't be good for them all to 
be alike. Then, some new thing 
that could wipe out one, could wipe 
out all." 

"Do you mean to tell me," said 
Jason, spacing the words slowly, 
and, he thought, calmly, "that the 
trillions or quadrilhons or what- 
ever it is we have of people on 
all the civilized worlds, are an evo- 
lutionary dead end; that you and 
these mountaineers squatting on 
their rocks represent the future of 
the race?" 

"No," Kerl shook his head, "not 
the future. A possible future. A re- 
motely possible future. One of na- 
ture's extra strings to its bow. Im- 
agine civilization breaking down. 
Would that make any difference 
to my people here? Not a bit. 
They're completely self-supporting. 
They don't need and don't want 
the rest of you. They might pull 
humanity back up out the mud 
again." 

Kerl's words died in the car. For 
what seemed a long while, Jason 
sat thinking. Finally, he turned to 
Kerl. 

"But you think your people will 
make the future," he said. It was 
an accusation. "That's why you've 
come back." 

Kerl's dark face was suddenly 
ravaged with sorrow. 

"No," he said. "No. I came back 
for an entirely different reason." 

Jason waited. 

"Research turned me inside out," 
said Kerl, painfully. "When they 
were through with me, I knew my- 
self — too well. I knew myself in- 
side and out. And I realized — " his 
voice faltered, then picked up with 

50 



a new strength " — that I was dif- 
ferent. From the time when that 
difference came home to me, liv- 
ing in civilization became living 
among strangers. There was a bar- 
rier there I could not cross because 
it was inside me and now I knew 
it was there." He stopped. 

"I had no choice," he said sud- 
denly. "I had to go home." 

He let out his breath and looked 
down at his hands, big and dark, 
folded in his lap. 

"I — am sorry," said Jason, stiffly. 
"I beg your pardon." 

"That's all right," said Kerl. "It's 
almost over now." He raised his 
eyes from his lap and looked out 
ahead, "You can stop anyplace 
along here. We don't want to drive 
up to the camp. We'll stop a bit 
short and let them find us." 

"All right," said Jason. He 
switched on the intercom and gave 
the necessary orders. 

The cars circled in the light of 
the afternoon sun, halted, men got 
out, and camp was made. 



ABOUT an hour before twi- 
light, the Potter clan put in 
its appearance. One moment, the 
valley was empty beyond the camp 
and then — it seemed, almost with- 
out transition — a small host of 
rough-clad figures had sprung into 
view, on the valley floor and down 
the rocky slopes some two hundred 
yards from the circle of cars. They 
stood silent, waiting. Two groups 
with centuries of apparent differ- 
ence between them. Silent, they 
stood and watched. Jason went to 
get Kerl and found him sitting in 
their car, chin on hand, his eyes 
absent and thoughtful. 

GORDON R. DICKSON 



"Well, they're here," said Jason. 

Kerl nodded. 

"I know," he answered. 

"They've come right out in the 
open," continued Jason. "Almost as 
if they knew you were with us." 

"I imagine they do," said Kerl. 
"Other tribes will have seen me 
with you and passed the word 
along." He got heavily to his feet 
and stepped out of the car. Be- 
yond the cars were the troopers. 
Followed by Jason, Kerl walked 
to an open space where a number 
of the men of the tribe stood wait- 
ing. Kerl turned and looked at the 
troopers. 

"Goodby," he said. "Thanks." 

The men murmured self-con- 
sciously. Kerl turned again and 
started off, stepping surely down 
the rugged path. Jason followed, 
without quite knowing why. 

Where the rough going ceased 
and the valley began to broaden 
out, Kerl stopped again and turned 
to Jason as the younger man came 
up level with him. They were far 
enough from the troopers now so 
that low voices would not carry 
their words back. 

"Goodby," said Kerl. 

"Goodby," Jason replied. Kerl 
put out his hand and Jason took 
it. They shook briefly, but Kerl held 
on to Jason's hand for a minute 
before releasing it. 

"Don't — " he began earnestly. 



but the words seemed to stick in 
his throat. 

"Yes?" said Jason. 

Kerl's face was twisted as if with 
a mighty inner effort. 

"Don't be afraid of the future," 
he said, tightly. "Keep going. 
Keep looking. There's nothing so 
wonderful as that." 

Jason stared at him. 

"You say that?" he could not 
keep the incredulity out of his 
voice. He nodded toward the wait- 
ing mountaineers. "But you're go- 
ing back!" 

'"Yes," whispered Kerl. "I told 
you. I have no choice." 

Jason swallowed. 

"Come back with us," he said. 
"I didn't know. But if it's our fu- 
ture you want, not theirs, come 
back. You can if you want to." 

"I can't." 

"Why not?" cried Jason. "It's 
all a matter of what you want. I 
thought you wanted this." 

"This?" echoed Kerl, looking 
bleakly about him at the moun- 
tains. "This?" His face worked. 

"God, no!" he cried. "The only 
thing I ever wanted was Kelmesh!" 

He turned, tearing himself away 
from Jason and facing towards the 
clansmen. Pebbles rattled and 
rolled under his uncaring feet as 
he lurched away. 

Walking like a blind man, he 
went down the valley. • • • 



The universe is vast and men but tiny specks on an insignificant 
planet. But the minute we realize our minuteness, our impotence 
in the face of cosmic forces, the more astonishing becomes what 
human beings have achieved. — Bertrand Russell 



CARRY ME HOME 



51 




STALEMATE 

The rules of a duel between gentlemen are quite different 

from the rules of war between nations. 

Is it because gentlemen do not fight wars, or is it that 

men in war cease to be gentlemen? 



BY BASIL WELLS 

52 




Illustrated by Leo Summers 



THE BULLET slapped rotted 
leaves and dirt into Gram 
Treb's eyes. He wormed backward 
to the bole of a small tree. 

"Missed!" he shouted. He used 
English, the second tongue of them 
both. "Throw away your carbine 
and use rocks." 

"You tasted it anyhow," Harl 
Neilson's shrill young voice cried. 
"How was the sample?" 

"That leaves you two car- 
tridges," taunted Treb. "Or is it 
only one?" 

The sixth sense that had brought 
him safely through two of these 
bloody war duels here in space 
made him fling his body to the left. 
He rolled over once and lay hud- 
dled in a shallow depression. He 
knew all the tiny hollows and 



ridges — 'they were his insurance on 
this mile-wide island high above 
Earth. 

Something thudded into the tree 
roots behind him. He hugged the 
ground, body flattened. His breath 
eased raggedly outward, and 
caught. The waiting— the seconds 
that became hours! If the grenade 
rolled after him, down the slope 
into his shelter, he was finished. 

There was nothing he could do. 
His palms oozed sweat ... 

The grenade exploded. It was like 
a fist slammed against his skull. He 
was numbed for a long instant. 
Then he checked. 

Unharmed. The depression had 
saved his neck this time. He wanted 
to shout at Neilson, tell him he was 
down to a lone grenade, but that 



Si 



was poor strategy. Now he must 
withdraw, make Neilson think him 
injured or dead, and trap him in 
turn. 

They were the last of the bellig- 
arents here within Earth SatelHte. 
For two months, since what would 
be May on Earth, they had carried 
on this mad duel. Of the other 
eighteen who had started the war in 
November of the preceding year, 
only four had survived their 
wounds. The United Nations' 
supervisory seconds had transported 
them to their homes in Andilia and 
in Baryt . . . 

Treb wormed his way as noise- 
lessly as possible into the under- 
growth, sprawling at last in the 
shelter of an earthen mound thirty 
feet from the grenade's raw splash. 
He waited — and thought. 

Memories can be unpleasant. He 
could see his comrades of the three 
battles as they had fallen, wounded 
or gray with death. Too many of 
them had he helped bury. He re- 
membered the treasured photos. 

The draining wound in his right 
forearm throbbed . . . 

The enemy dead too. He had 
killed several of them — more than 
his share, he thought savagely. They 
too were young despite the ragged 
beards some of them cultivated. 

Treb felt like an old man. And 
he was old. He was twenty-nine. 
He had a son also named Gram, a 
boy of five, and little Alse, who was 
two. Had little Alse's mother lived 
he would never have volunteered 
for this third United Nations' war 
duel. 

He would have been with her in 
the mountain valley of Krekar 
working hard, and gradually eras- 
ing those other ugly episodes here 

54 



on Earth Satellite One . . . 

Minutes crawled by, lumped to- 
gether into hours. Birds sang in the 
trees so laboriously maintained here 
in the satellite's disk-shaped heart. 
And, a hundred feet overhead, 
where the true deck of the man- 
made island in space began, other 
birds nested in the girders. 

An ant crawled over Treb's earth- 
stained hand and passed under his 
outstretched carbine's barrel. 

There was a movement in the 
clustering trees off to his right. Neil- 
son had circled and was coming in 
from an opposite angle. Treb 
thumbed off the safety and waited. 

An earth-colored helmet, with a 
trace of long pale hair around its 
rim, came slowly into view. Could 
be a dummy, Neilson was clever at 
rigging them to draw fire. And he 
had exactly two cartridges. After 
that it would be his three grenades, 
his two-foot needle-knife, that dou- 
bled as a bayonet, and the steel bow 
he had contrived from a strip of 
spring steel. 

He held his fire. The trees made 
grenade lobbing a touchy business. 
And his bow was back in one of the 
dozens of foxholes he had spotted 
in both the inner and outer rings 
of trees. 

In the fantasy stories of adven- 
ture in space that he enjoyed read- 
ing, the hero could always whip up 
a weird paralysis ray, a deadly, in- 
visible robot bullet, or an intelligent 
gaseous ally from the void would 
appear. And out of scrap glass, 
metal and his shoestrings he could 
contrive a solar-powered shell that 
stopped any missile, deadlier than 
a marshmallow, cold. 

In actual life he was finding it 
difficult enough to contrive a 

BASIL WELLS 



primitive sort of bow, a knife-lashed 
spear, and snares for the increasing- 
ly wary rabbits. Lack of sleep and 
lack of food supplies were sapping 
his lanky body of the whiplash 
swiftness and wiry strength it once 
possessed. Nor was the week-old 
wound any aid to his dulled wits . . . 

The helmet advanced; he could 
almost see the twig-stuffed gray 
shirt's pockets, and he let his nos- 
trils expand as he sucked in a 
steadying breath. Now, a yard be- 
hind the fake Andilian, he could 
see the moving shoulders and skull 
of Harl Neilson— or so his bloodshot 
eyes told him. 

He squeezed the trigger. There 
was a subdued yip, and then a de- 
risive jeer. Missed again— or had 
he? 

"Sour rocketing, Grampaw," 
Neilson laughed. "Try again. And 
then I'm coming after you." 

Only Neilson wouldn't. Unless 
he'd miscalculated ^ the number of 
grenades, he wouldn't come charg- 
ing at Treb. And he couldn't be sure 
of the number of cartridges Treb 
possessed. He was just talking to 
keep his nerve up. 

Especially if he was wounded 
now. That sudden yip . . , 



IT WAS NIGHT again, an arti- 
ficial night as artificial as the 
central ten-acre pool of water, the 
ring of flowering green trees and 
grasses, and the final outer ring of 
forest trees. It was here that the 
two thousand UN employees and 
soldiers on Earth Satellite One nor- 
mally took their recreation periods. 
Only the supervised war-duels, 
that since 1969 had been the only 
blood-letting permitted between na- 

STALEAAATE 



tions, could long keep a Terran 
from visiting the green meadows 
and trees of this lowest of the three 
levels . . . 

"I'd give half that quarter mil- 
lion," Neilson groaned, across the 
darkness, "for a cigarette." 

"You mean," corrected Gram 
Treb, "half your ten thousand." 

"It's the winner's grant or noth- 
ing, Treb. I promised Jane I'd hand 
it to her. Then we'll marry." 

"But not if you are the loser?" 

"I wouldn't — she wouldn't — it's 
impossible to think of asking her to 
share poverty and disgrace." 

"I'd hardly say that. We lost our 
first war here on the Satellite. Baryt 
was obligated to cede a thousand 
square miles to Tarrance. Most of 
my ten thousand paid off my 
family's debts. 

"Yet I married. I married Nal 
who had nursed me back to health. 
And we were happy. Until the sec- 
ond war with Duristan. I wanted 
money for her — for the children — 
for my impoverished valley." 

Treb broke off. He backed away 
several feet and shifted noiselessly 
to a new position. Every night, and 
sometimes in the artificial sunlight, 
they talked together. But they never 
forgot that they were sworn foes. 

"So you won it didn't you?" From 
his voice Neilson had shifted closer 
and to the left. 

"Sure. And I wish I were as poor 
as before. For Nal was kicked to 
death — by the horse I should have 
been using — while I fought here." 

Neilson made a sympathetic 
sound. Treb felt his lips twitch into 
a thin crooked line. This is what it 
meant to be human. To feel sorrow 
for another man's misfortunes — 
and then kill him! 

55 



Sure, Neilson was a good sort. 
Only twenty-four and in love with 
a girl, a woman really, widow of a 
dead lunar explorer. And he was a 
clean-living sort, nothing dishonor- 
able or hateful about him. They 
even honored the same God. 

But tomorrow, or the next day, 
or a month from now, he would kill 
or wound Neilson. Unless, as might 
well happen, Neilson got to him 
first. 

He pushed aside a thought that 
came more and more often of late. 
Why not surrender, or let Neilson 
capture him? He did not consider 
suicide- — little Gram and Alse 
needed him — although he had not 
been thinking of them when he 
signed for this ugly miniature battle 
in space. His wife's death had been 
too vivid yet. 

But, why not surrender? He had 
enough money. The valley people 
could struggle along without the 
machines and the dam he had 
hoped to grant them with victory. 
And Baryt could lose the island of 
Daafa to Andilia without crippling 
herself. The three hundred and fifty 
inhabitants could be transferred to 
the mainland. 

Treb laughed silently, a laugh 
that cut off with a twinge of draw- 
ing ugly pain from his wounded 
forearm. He knew that he could no 
more surrender without a fight than 
he could command his breathing to 
stop forever. He was a man, and 
men cannot give up dishonor- 
ably . . . 

"I'd like to see those two kids 
sometime, if you're still around, 
Treb." Neilson had moved again. 
His voice was lower but he was 
nearer. 

"Stop around anytime, Harl." 



Treb moved a few feet deeper into 
a thicket. "We'll show you what 
real Baryt hospitality is." 

"That's a promise, Treb." 

Killing. That's what war was. So 
you had to kill. Or you volunteered 
to kill. But you didn't have to like it. 
All these little wars under UN 
supervision were needless — arbitra- 
tion would serve as well. But the 
people, the leaders — someone — 
wanted blood. So ten or twelve or 
fifteen citizens of one nation fought 
an equal number of the other state's 
sons. 

Doubtless it was an improvement 
over the mass bombings of innocent 
city dwellers, and , the horror of 
atomic dusts and sprays. No over- 
whelming army could sweep, un- 
checked, over a helpless neighbor. 
It was fairer, too, for those in- 
volved. Equal numbers of men, 
guns, supplies. Wealth if your side 
won, and a fair sum if you lost. 

The United Nations saw to that. 
After all the avenues to peaceful 
settlement had been explored and 
turned down they finally permitted 
bloodshed. Much against their bet- 
ter judgement, perhaps. 

So he could destroy likeable 
young Andilians like Neilson. 

"Why don't you send up a 
rocket?" Neilson kidded, his voice 
coming from a changed direction 
again. "So I can see you." 

"Anything to oblige." 

Neilson was circling out around, 
as though to drive him into a trap 
or trick him. They were getting 
back to the primitive now. Soon 
it would be knives, spears, and 
deadfalls. 

"Come on over and I'll show you 
Jane's picture, Treb," invited Neil- 
son. He laughed hoarsely. "If we 



56 



BASIL WELLS 



weren't where we are, I'd mean 
that." 

"I know. I feel that way myself 
sometimes. We've been here alone 
too long. Hate hasn't lasted." 

"Why aren't you a wrongo, 
Treb?" The young voice was 
cracked and. savage. "Why'd you 
have to tell me about — Gram and 
Alse?" 

Treb was backing away again, 
cautiously. He scented a trap. No 
doubt Neilson's words were sincere, 
at the moment, but in a second's 
time he could change into a cold- 
blooded executioner. He knew. He 
had seen the gentlest of men sud- 
denly turn killer ... 

And then his foot struck a yield- 
ing branch and his aroused sus- 
picion sent him lunging forward. 

A heavy something fell with a 
sickening thud, brushing as it struck, 
the sole of his distintegrating shoe. 
A cleverly rigged deadfall of small 
trees and rock, doubtless. 

"You're slipping, Harl," he 
shouted. 

But he could feel the sudden 
sweat damping his palms, and the 
muscles twitched unsteadily in his 
arms and across his stomach. 



WITH MORNING he was half 
a mile away, in a foxhole less 
than sixty yards from the massive 
outer perimeter of the arena. Two 
of his snares had yielded a rabbit 
each, and so he was supplied for 
several days. 

The foxhole had two entrances, 
both well-concealed, and he had 
rigged elaborate warning devices 
should the vicinity be approached. 
So he was sleeping. 

His dreams were unpleasant. 

STALEMATE 



In his latest dream an extremely 
shapely and smiling young woman 
with dark hair was heaving a gre- 
nade into a pit where he lay bound 
and helpless. The grenade swelled 
until it became a space ship head- 
ing directly toward the frail scout 
craft he piloted ... 

And a tiny blob of dislodged mud 
from the dugout spatted his face. 
He sat up. 

Another day to hunt or be 
hunted. Or to lie here and try to 
rest and make plans. There was 
slight possibility that Neilson could 
find him here. 

He gnawed at the scantly-fleshed 
ribs of the first rabbit, savoring the 
raw meaty smell and flavor. Hun- 
ger was his salt. 

Now that they had lost contact 
with one another it might require 
several days to find Neilson. A 
wooded platter, a smile in diameter, 
can afford many hiding places for 
one creature hiding from another 
hunting beast. 

It was time to set some of the 
traps he had been contriving. 

There were the two nooses, at- 
tached to bent-down triggered 
young trees that could not be set 
until darkness fell again. The net, 
too, would need darkness to con; 
ceal the four rough pulleys, and the 
rocks that a tug on his rope would 
spill. 

But the almost invisible nylon 
cords, set at ankle height across the 
paths, and the ugly little pits with 
their sharpened stakes set three 
feet below, could trip up a man 
and cripple him. He must put out 
several of those. 

He had no wish to kill Neilson. 
If he could capture him, very good. 
He could go back to Andilia and 

. 57 



perhaps his Jane would be glad to 
take him. If she did not — it was 
worth knowing how little she really 
cared, was it not? 

So he would try to trap the 
younger man and save his life. 

It would be difficult. The other 
man had grenades, a carbine and a 
keen needle-knife. Perhaps, before 
the end, he would be forced to kill 
after all. But regretfully. 

Treb dumped the last of the 
tsaftha antibiotic into his wound 
and lay back for a few more hours 
of rest before going out to prepare 
the traps. 

His head was not clear. And his 
eyes drew together from exhaus- 
tion . . . 

Another night and another day, 
and it was night again. 

His traps were set and ready. All 
through the day he had prowled the 
trees, watching for some sign of 
Neilson. He found he was muttering 
to himself, hungry for the sound of 
spoken words. 

It was nervous work. His muscles 
were jumping in faint spastic ex- 
plosions. Neilson could have been 
lying in ambush in any of a hun- 
dred leafy coverts, resting there and 
waiting . . . 

He had covered less than two 
miles of inching, crawling paths, 
his eyes ever alert for deadfalls, 
pits and spear-traps that might flash 
across the way to impale him. 

And he had caught no sight of 
Neilson. 

Now it was night again. Time to 
check on his traps. The rabbit traps 
as well as the human traps. 

He was approaching the net. And 
the awareness that this furtive game 
of hide-and-seek might go on for 

Si 



weeks oppressed him. He might lie 
here close by the net for days with- 
out sight of Neilson. They were too 
evenly matched — and Neilson was 
younger. It was Neilson's youth 
against his experience. 

He found the thin rope of 
knotted nylon and plastic scraps 
that led to the four balanced rocks. 
One stout yank and the net would 
jerk upward four feet and tighten 
around its victim. 

But, in the dim starlight from the 
small globes spotting the Satellite's 
ceiling, the path was an indistinct 
blur. A moving body's exact posi- 
tion . . . And at fifty feet . . . 

He saw Neilson — it could only 
be Neilson. 

Moving on hands and knees, he 
was, keeping low and to the side of 
the little-used trail — but within the 
width of the hand-patched net. And 
he moved slowly, probing before 
him with a stick or his needle-knife; 
Treb could not tell which. 

Another two feet and he could 
trip the net. Neilson would be cap- 
tured, alive, and the stalemate 
ended. 

Now! 

The net flung into the air, 
snapped tight about Neilson's 
thrashing body! He heard the pop 
of parting strands as Neilson slashed 
with his knife. And then he swung 
the butt of his carbine, twice, 
against the trapped man's skull. 

Neilson went limp. It was fin- 
ished. He could take his prisoner to 
the lock, summon the UN guards, 
and go home to the Krekar Hills. 
And an end to all blood-letting for 
him. 

He set about binding tight the 
arms and legs of Neilson, and had 
barely completed his task when the 

BASIL WELLS 



prisoner groaned and struggled. 

"So this is it, Treb?" 

"Yes." 

"You win again. And I — I lose 
everything." 

"So?" Treb touched his pocket 
torch to a heap of shredded dry 
twigs. "What have you lost? Your 
health, your life? And will not the 
woman forget all else and love 
you?" 

"Hah! She will laugh at me if I 
come near her. Defeated, and with 
a paltry ten thousand to offer. Bet- 
ter that I died than this." 

"Perhaps you do not — -know this 
woman, Harl. If she is good, she 
will come to you." 

The growing firelight was on 
Neilson's bearded face. And be- 
neath his eyes something glistened 
and beaded. He laughed bitterly. 

"She's not good, Treb, under- 
stand that. She's evil and money- 
hungry, and ambitious. But she is 
beautiful and I love her. I'd sell my 
soul and my body to possess her. 

"That's why I volunteered. With 
the winners' grant I would have 
money. Prestige. Honor. There 
would be a thousand new oppor- 
tunities for a career. And Jane 
could not refuse me then." 

"It is wrong, Harl Neilson, to so 
worship a woman. Like alcohol or 
Venerian fire pollen — it is un- 
natural." 

"I know. I have tried to forget, 
to put her memory aside. But it is 
like a disease. An incurable disease. 
I must have Jane." 

Treb threw more wood on the 
little fire and checked over the 
lashings about Neilson's body. 

"I am going to look at my rab- 
bit snares," he said, "and to spring 
the other traps. We will eat and 

STALEMATE 



sleep, and in the morning try to 
shave and look decent before going 
to the locks." 

Neilson let his head sag between 
his shoulders, and said nothing. He 
was leaning against a tree, his arms 
lashed behind him and to it. 

"There is one more thing, Harl, 
that I wish to discuss. It is about 
the Paul Hubble Foundation 
Award. Think about it." 

Treb moved off into the darkness. 



THE SUNLIGHT from the 
overhead "suns" of the Satellite 
revealed a greatly changed Treb. 
He was shaved, his hair combed and 
hacked off above his ears, and he 
was stitching the last rough patch 
on his dark green trouser leg. 

Now he donned the trousers and 
went over to the bound Andilian. 
He cut the ropes, his carbine ready. 

"Get down to the lake," he or- 
dered. "You'll find a razor, soap 
and an old shirt to dry yourself 
with." 

Harl Neilson was chunky and 
fair-haired, with a healthy looking 
red-brown skin. His eyes were wide 
and darkly blue. Now the wide 
mouth under his shapeless nose 
twisted into a faint grin. 

"I'll try to get away," he warned. 
"Aren't you afraid of that?" 

"I have all the guns, grenades 
and needle-knives, Harl. I'll shoot 
you if you attempt escape, of course, 
but I hope you'll listen to what I 
propose first." 

Neilson slowly stripped off his 
ragged tunic and trousers. There 
was the scar of a recent bullet's path 
across his right shoulder blade. It 
was crusted with blackened blood. 

"I thought I heard you two days 

if 



back, Harl," said Treb. 

"Just a scratch." Neilson took 
up the soap and waded into the 
nearby lake. "Start talking, Treb." 

"I told you to think about Paul 
Hubble's Award, Harl. He's the 
American industrialist who opposed 
violence in settling any issue." 

"Sure. Heard about him in the 
lower grades. Fifty million dollars 
he sunk in his worthless Peace 
Foundation. What about it?" 

"Hear me out. Did you like what 
we just went through? Your friends 
and comrades dying — my friends 
dead and wounded? And all to 
settle some territorial dispute or to 
wipe out some imagined slur. 

"Would you like to prevent your 
kid, or mine, from having to face 
this again?" 

"Stop sounding off, Treb, and 
say something." Neilson scrubbed 
vigorously. "Of course I would — if 
I ever had a kid, I mean." 

"We could help, Harl. By calling 
off the duel and making peace right 
here. Of course there might be new 
balloting — even another battle be- 
tween our countries. But we would 
crack the theory that victory means 
more than humanity." 

Neilson snorted. He splashed wa- 
ter into his eyes and over his soapy 
beard and hair. 

"And go home penniless? To 
have every friend and neighbor 
avoid us? What's eating you? You 
won. You'll get the quarter of a 
million." 

"I want you to share equally. I 
want our two countries to know 
that friendship means more than 
glory." 

"I don't get it. If neither side 
wins we get nothing." 

"You forget about the Hubble 



Award. Two hundred thousand to 
each member of both sides, or their 
survivors, if they declare an armis- 
tice." 

"I had forgotten. You'd give up 
fifty thousand so I could get the 
same two hundred thousand! 
You're a prince, Treb. 

"But I couldn't do it. Jane would 
turn against me. The radio, the 
newswires, television and the maga- 
zines would crucify me — both of 
us." 

"We'd ride it out. None of the 
participants in the twenty-two duels 
here in Satellite has had the courage 
to admit he hates war. In years to 
come our stand would be honored." 

"It means losing Jane. I can't do 
it." 

"You've lost her anyway, Harl, if 
she's the way you say. How about 
your three wounded buddies : Was- 
son, Clark, and Thomason? Badly 
cut up aren't they? Clark blind. 
Wasson with no arms. 

"Couldn't they use the two hun- 
dred thousand?" 

Neilson was coming ashore. A 
sudden resolve hardened his face, 
and his blue eyes were dark and 
angry. His jaw jutted through the 
sandy fairness of his draggled beard. 

Treb felt his vitals knot at what 
he sensed in Neilson's expression. 
He'd gambled on the essential fair- 
ness and sympathy of the Andilian's 
character. But now . . . 

"I'll do it," Neilson said tone- 
lessly. 

"I hope you'll never regret what 
you are doing, Harl." 

"Aw, lock valves!" snarled Neil- 
son. "Get ready to go while I finish 
shaving." 

So that was the way it was to be. 
Treb turned wearily away. He went 

BASIL WELLS 



back through the screen of flower- 
ing shrubs and trees to where the 
coals of their fire turned gray. 

The grenades and the three 
cartridges, his own and Neilson's, 
he buried in a hasty hole under a 
tree's sprawled roots. Afterward he 
tamped sod back into place and 
spread leaves. 

His needle-knife he laid on the 
turf. From his pocket he took a 
long strip of cloth and some of the 
tough nylon cords from the net. 
Then he let his trousers drop about 
his ankles and set about anchoring 
the needle-knife securely to his up- 
per leg. 

When he had finished the keen 
blade projected a foot below his 
knee-cap. And around it, carefully, 
he wound some of the cloth. He 
donned his battered trousers again. 
The concealed knife was well hid- 
den, although it did impede the 
freedom of his stride. 

Then he went down to rejoin 
Neilson. 

Neilson was just finishing hack- 
ing at his hair with the short-bladed 
safety razor. He scowled at Treb, 
his eyes on the carbine that the man 
from Baryt yet carried. 

"Not taking any chances, elt, 
Treb?" 

"Just in case you change your 
mind, Harl." 

"My friend — my very dear friend 
— Gram Treb!" Neilson laughed. 
"What trust — what a faith in hu- 
man nature!" 

"Yes, Harl. Your friend." 

They left the lake behind, Neil- 
son in advance. Directly ahead, 
beyond the outer ring of trees, the 
locks to the upper levels waited. 
They had less than a third of a mile 
to traverse. 

STALEMATE 



The rusting shattered debris of 
a machine gun, with a spilled clut- 
ter of empty shell cases, lay just 
off the trail. 

"Harok Dann died here," said 
Treb. Neilson did not turn. 

"The big man, Manross, was 
killed by Dann's fire even as he 
threw the grenade," he added. 

Treb was watching the broad- 
shouldered figure ahead. 

"Shut it off, Treb, will you?" 
Neilson shouted, turning. "Isn't it 
tough enough without you yap-yap- 
ping all the way?" 

Treb's lips thinned. The knife 
chafed his leg. Already he was limp- 
ing slightly. But they had covered 
more than half the distance. Once 
they contacted the UN guards and 
were through the locks he could 
relax . . . 



THE CIRCULAR outer face of 
the lock was before them. And 
the button that summoned the 
guards jutted redly from a shoulder- 
high recess. Neilson leaned against 
the lock, his narrowed eyes on Treb 
as he reached for the button. 

Treb jabbed. And he relaxed in- 
wardly. Too late now for Neilson 
to attempt overpowering him and 
claiming the victory. He had feared 
such an attempt — with the lust for 
the woman, Jane Vanne, driving 
him, Neilson might have gone back 
on his word. 

It was tough going for the kid. 
But he wasn't losing anything worth 
keeping. And hundreds of fine 
young lads like him might be spared 
going through this ordeal in space. 
They'd . . . 

Neilson's fist caught him behind 
the ear. That split-second of inat- 

61 



tention was proving costly. Neilson 
clamped the carbine barrel, wrested 
it away from Treb. He raised it. 
Treb lifted his hands. 

"So now it's me at the controls," 
Neilson said, grinning. "Any reason 
why I should go through with your 
Hubble Award idea?" 

"The guards will be here in no 
more than a minute, Harl. Throw 
the gun away and we'll go through 
together." 

Neilson's eyes were shining. He 
was seeing the crowds waving crazy 
welcome as his space ship grounded. 
He was seeing the adulation of the 
boys, and the adoring glance of the 
dark-eyed girl named Jane. He was 
seeing the medals and the banquets 
and the bundles of money. 

"You were crazy, Treb," he said, 
"to ever trust me. In war promises 
mean nothing. Study your history." 

Treb squared his shoulders, his 
hands came down. 

"If that's the way it is," he said, 
and then, "coming at you, Neilson." 

Neilson flinched. It was the first 
time Treb had called him by his last 
name, perhaps that was the reason. 
Or it could have been the sight of 
an unarmed man walking directly 
into his carbine's ugly muzzle. 

He pressed trigger. The unloaded 
weapon was silent. Treb wrenched 
at the gun. Neilson kicked him in 
the crotch. The gun came free. He 



brought it down at Treb's head, but 
at the last second before impact 
Treb dodged. The barrel smacked 
into Treb's right shoulder and 
broke the collar bone. 

Treb came on, his left hand jab- 
bing, and his right arm dangling. 
Neilson chopped at his face with the 
vertically held carbine, and tore a 
great chunk from his left cheek. 

And then Treb's knee came up. 
The shielded razor-sharp blade 
sliced through his trouser. He drove 
the ugly little dagger into Neilson's 
body. 

Neilson went down, squirming 
away from the sudden pain that 
tore at his vitals. The carbine went 
clattering. 

Treb. knelt beside him ; tried to 
stanch the warm gush of red life, 
and cursed, soundlessly, the ambi- 
tion that is mankind's greatest boon 
— and curse. He tore off the bloody 
knife. 

"You won't die, Neilson," he said 
gravely. "Not with the surgeon and 
the hospital here on Earth Satellite 
so near. You'll live to see Andilia 
again. 

"And about the invitation to visit 
us — I'm sorry you rejected it like 
this. But the offer still stands. When 
I can call you Harl again, when 
you are a man, visit us." 

The lock behind them creaked 
and started to open. • • • 



Why does this magnificently applied science which saves work and 
makes life easier bring so little happiness? The simple answer runs: 
because we have not yet learned to make sensible use of it. 

— Albert Einstein 



To define it rudely but not ineptly, research is the art of doing 
well with one dollar that which any bungler can do with two after 
a fashion. — Wellington 

62 BASIL WELLS 



what Is Your Science I. Q. ? 



HERE'S A LITTLE exercise that will test your knowledge of 
light, sound, atmosphere, bombs, planets and other items you run 



' 



across all the time in science fiction. How well do you know 
them? Counting five for each correct answer, you should score 60. 
Anything over 75 and you're a whizz. See page 119 for the an- 
swers. , 

1. Mach number 1 is equal to the speed of sound at sea level, 



or . . miles per hour. 

2. What have klystron and magnetron in common? 

3. The , star visible to the naked eye has a magnitude '. 

of plus 6. \ 

4. The gravity on Mars is approximately what fraction of Earth 
gravity? 

5. On Earth, a falling object would have an acceleration of 
feet per second. 

6. What is the name of the companion of the double star Mizar? 

7. Electrons are to matter what are to light. 

8. What sort of an atmosphere does the moon Titan have? 

9. It takes the sun's light minutes to reach us here > 

on Earth. 

10. What is the nitrogen content of the air we breathe? ' 

11. An artificial moonlet would have to travel at a speed of 

miles per hour to maintain a circular orbit around 

the Earth. 

12. When a planet crosses in front of the sun as seen from Earth, 
it is in 

13. What other planet besides Mercury and Pluto has an eliptical 
orbit rather than a circular one? 

14. What is the name of the red star in the constellation Orion? 

15. A day on the Moon is times as long as a day on 

Earth. 

16. Within how much time after an atomic explosion is the peak 
of radiation reached? 

17. The lightest of all the elements that are solid at ordinary tem- 
perature is 

18. A star that is a cephled variable is what color? 

19. What is another name for the great nebula in Andromeda? 

20. The explosion energy of A-bombs, H-bombs, and Lithium 
bombs is caused by a , ■. reaction process. 



63 



Intelligent parents readily understand why they must 

not try to educate and train their children. 
Robots do it much better; they do not confuse them 

with complexes or emotions or petty impulses. 
Even tired old Ed Doyle could tell you that much . . , 



PROGENY 



BY PHILIP K. DICK 



E 



D DOYLE hurried. He caught 
surface car, waved fifty 
credits in the robot driver's face, 
mopped his florid face with a red 
pocket-handkerchief, unfastened his 
collar, perspired arrd licked his lips 
and swallowed piteously all the 
way to the hospital. 

The surface car slid up to a 
smooth halt before the great white- 
domed hospital building. Ed leaped 
out and bounded up the steps three 
at a time, pushing through the vis- 
itors and convalescent patients 
standing on the broad terrace. He 
threw his weight against the door 
and emerged in the lobby, aston- 
ishing the attendants and persons 
of importance moving about their 
tasks. 

"Where?" Ed demanded, gazing 
around, his feet wide apart, his 
fists clenched, his chest rising and 
falling. His breath came hoarsely, 
like an animal's. Silence fell over 
the lobby. Everyone turned toward 



him, pausing in their work. 
"Where?" Ed demanded again. 
"Where is she? They?" 

It was fortunate Janet had been 
delivered of a child on this of all 
days! Proxima Centauri was a long 
way from Terra and the service was 
bad. Anticipating the birth of his 
child, Ed had left Proxima some 
weeks before. He had just arrived 
in the city. While stowing his suit- 
case in the luggage tread at the 
station the message had been 
handed to him by a robot courier: 
Los Angeles Central Hospital. At 
once, 

Ed hurried, and fast. As he hur- 
ried he couldn't help feeling 
pleased he had hit the day exactly 
right, almost to the hour. It was a 
good feeling. He had felt it before, 
during years of business dealings 
in the "colonies", the frontier, the 
fringe of Terran civilization where 
the streets were still lit by electric 
lights and doors opened by hand. 



;i4 




Illustrated by Ralph Castenir 



That was going to be hard to get 
used to. Ed turned toward the door 
behind him, feeling suddenly fool^ 
ish. He had shoved it open, ignor- 
ing the eye. The door was just now 
closing, sliding slowly back in place. 
He calmed down a little, putting 
his handkerchief away in his coat 
pocket. The hospital attendants 
were resuming their work, picking 
up their activities where they had 
left off. One attendant, a strapping 
late-model robot, coasted over to 
Ed and halted. 

The robot balanced his note- 
board expertly, his photocell eyes 
appraising Ed's flushed features. 
"May I enquire whom you are 
looking for, sir? Whom do you 
wish to find?" 

"My wife." ■ 

"Her name, sir?" 

"Janet. Janet Doyle. She's just 
had a child." 

The robot consulted his board. 
"This way, sir." He coasted off 
down the passage. 

Ed followed nervously. "Is she 
okay? Did I get here in time?" His 
anxiety was returning. 

"She is quite well, sir." The ro- 
bot raised his metal arm and a 
side door slid back. "In here, sir." 

Janet, in a chic blue-mesh suit, 
was sitting before a mahogany desk, 
a cigarette between her fingers, her 
slim legs crossed, talking rapidly. 
On the other side of the desk a 
well-dressed doctor sat listening. 

"Janet!" Ed said, entering the 
room. 

"Hi, Ed." She glanced up at him. 
"You just now get in?" 

"Sure. It's— it's all over? You— 
I mean, it's happened?" 

Janet laughed, her even white 
teeth sparkling. "Of course. Come 

m 



in and sit. This is Doctor Bish." 

"Hello, Doc." Ed sat down nerv- 
ously across from them. "Then it's 
all over?" 

"The event has happened," Doc- 
tor Bish said. His voice was thin 
and metallic. Ed realized with a 
sudden shock that the doctor was 
a robot. A top-level robot, made in 
humanoid form, not like the ordi- 
nary metal-limbed workers. It had 
fooled him — ^he had been away so 
long. Doctor Bish appeared plump 
and well fed, with kindly features 
and eyeglasses. His large fleshy 
hands rested on the desk, a ring on 
one finger. Pinstripe suit and neck- 
tie. Diamond tie clasp. Nails care- 
fully manicured. Hair black and 
evenly parted. 

But his voice had given him 
away. They never seemed to be 
able to get a really human sound 
into the voice. The compressed air 
and whirling disc system seemed to 
fall short. Otherwise, it was very 
convincing. 

"I understand you've been situ- 
ated near Proxima, Mr. Doyle," 
Doctor Bish said pleasantly. 

Ed nodded. "Yeah." 

"Quite a long way, isn't it? I've 
never been out there. I have al- 
ways wanted to go. Is it true they're 
almost ready to push on to Sirius?" 

"Look, doc—" 

"Ed, don't be impatient." Janet 
stubbed out her cigarette, glancing 
reprovingly up at him. She hadn't 
changed in six months. Small 
blonde face, red mouth, cold eyes 
like little blue rocks. And now, her 
perfect figure back again. "They're 
bringing him here. It takes a few 
minutes. They have to wash him 
off and put drops in his eyes and 
take a wave shot of his brain." 

PHILIP K. DICK 



"He? Then it's a boy?" 

"Of course. Don't you remem- 
ber? You were with me when I 
had the shots. We agreed at the 
time. You haven't changed your 
mind, have you?" 

"Too late to change your mind 
now, Mr. Doyle," Doctor Bfsh's 
toneless voice came, high-pitched 
and calm. "Your wife has decided 
to call him Peter." 

"Peter." Ed nodded, a little 
dazed. "That's right. We did de- 
cide, didn't we? Peter." He let the 
word roll around in his mind. 
"Yeah. That's fine. I like it." 

The wall suddenly faded, turn- 
ing from opaque to transparent. 
Ed spun quickly. They were look- 
ing into a brightly lit room, filled 
with hospital equipment and white- 
clad attendant robots. One of the 
robots was moving toward them, 
pushing a cart. On the cart was a 
container, a big metal pot. 

Ed's breathing increased. He felt 
a wave of dizziness. He went up to 
the transparent wall and stood 
gazing at the metal pot on the 
cart. 

Doctor Bish rose. "Don't you 
want to see, too, Mrs. Doyle?" 

"Of course." Janet crossed to 
the wall and stood beside Ed. She 
watched critically, her arms folded. 

Doctor Bish made a signal. The 
attendant reached into the pot and 
lifted out a wire tray, gripping the 
handles with his magnetic clamps. 
On the tray, dripping through the 
wire, was Peter Doyle, still wet 
from his bath, his eyes wide with 
astonishment. He was pink all over, 
except for a fringe of hair on the 
top of his head, and his great 
blue eyes. He was little and wrin- 
kled and toothless, like an ancient 

PROGENY 



withered sage. 

"Golly," Ed said. 

Doctor Bish made a second sig- 
nal. The wall slid back. The at- 
tendant robot advanced into the 
room, holding his dripping tray 
out. Doctor Bish removed Peter 
from the tray and held him up for 
inspection. He turned him around 
and around, studying him from 
every angle. 

"He looks fine," he said at last. 

"What was the result of the wave 
photo?" Janet asked. 

"Result was good. Excellent 
tendencies indicated. Very prom- 
ising. High development of the — " 
The doctor broke off. "What is it, 
Mr. Doyle?" 

Ed was holding out his hands. 
"Let me have him, doc. I want to 
hold him." He grinned from ear to 
ear. "Let's see how heavy he is. He 
sure looks big." 

Doctor Bish's mouth fell open in 
horror. He and Janet gaped. 

"Ed!" Janet exclaimed sharply. 
"What's the matter with you?" 

"Good heavens, Mr. Doyle," the 
doctor murmured. 

Ed blinked. "What?" 

"If I had thought you had any 
such thing in mind — " Doctor Bish 
quickly returned Peter to the at- 
tendant. The attendant rushed 
Peter from the room, back to the 
metal pot. The cart and robot and 
pot hurriedly vanished, and the wall 
banged back in place. 

Janet grabbed Ed's arm angrily. 
"Good Lord, Ed! Have you lost 
your mind? Come on. Let's get out 
of here before you do something 
else." 

"But—" 

"Come on." Janet smiled nerv- 
ously at Doctor Bish. "We'll run 

67 



along now, doctor. Thanks so much 
for erery thing. Don't pay any atten- 
tion to him. He's been out there so 
long, you know." 

"I understand," Doctor Bish said 
smoothly. He had regained his 
poise. "I trust we'll hear from you 
later, Mrs. Doyle." 

Janet pulled Ed out into the hall. 
"Ed, what's the matter with you? 
I've never been so embarrassed in 
all my life." Two spots of red 
glowed in Janet's cheeks. "I could 
have kicked you." 

"But what—" 

"You know we aren't allowed to 
touch him. What do you want to 
do, ruin his whole life?" 

"But—" 

"Gome on." They hurried out- 
side the hospital, onto the terrace. 
Warm sunlight streamed down on 
them. "There's no telling what 
harm you've done. He may already 
be hopelessly warped. If he grows 
up all warped and — and neurotic 
and emotional, it'll be your fault." 

Suddenly Ed remembered. He 
sagged, his features drooping with 
misery. "That's right. I forgot. Only 
robots can come near the children. 
I'm sorry, Jan. I got carried away. 
I hope I didn't do anything they 
can't fix." 

"How could you forget?" 

"It's so different out at Prox." Ed 
waved to a surface car, crest-fallen 
and abashed. The driver drew up 
in front of them. "Jan, I'm sorry as 
hell. I really am. I was all excited. 
Let's go have a cup of coffee some- 
place and talk. I want to know what 
the doctor said." 



E 



D HAD a cup of coffee and 
Janet sipped at a brandy 



6i'' 



frappe. The Nymphite Room 
was pitch black except for a vague 
light oozing up from the table be- 
tween them. The table diffused a 
pale illumination that spread over 
everything, a ghostly radiation 
seemingly without source. A robot 
waitress moved back and forth 
soundlessly with a tray of drinks. 
Recorded music played softly in the 
back of the room. 

"Go on," Ed said. 

"Go on?" Janet slipped her jacket 
off and laid it over the back of her 
chair. In the pale light her breasts 
glowed faintly. "There's not much 
to tell. Everything went all right. It 
didn't take long. I chatted with 
Doctor Bish most of the time." 

"I'm glad I got here." 

"How was your trip?" 

"Fine." 

"Is the service getting any better? 
Does it still take as long as it did?" 

"About the same." 

"I can't see why you want to go 
all the way out there. It's so — so 
cut off from things. What do you 
find out there? Are plumbing fix- 
tures really that much in demand?" 

"They need them. Frontier area. 
Everyone wants the refinements." 
Ed gestured vaguely. "What did he 
tell you about Peter? What's he 
going to be like? Gan he tell? I 
guess it's too soon." 

"He was going to tell me when 
you started acting the way you did. 
I'll call him on the vidphone when 
we get home. His wave pattern 
should be good. He comes from the 
best eugenic stock." 

Ed grunted. "On your side, at 
least." 

"How long are you going to be 
here?" 

"I don't know. Not long. I'll have 

PHILIP K. DICK 



to go back. I'd sure like to see him 
again, before I go;" He glanced up 
hopefully at his wife. "Do you think 
lean?" 

"I suppose." 

"How long will he have to stay 
there?" 

"At the hospital? Not long. A 
few days." 

Ed hesitated. "I didn't mean at 
the hospital, exactly. I mean with 
them. How long before we can have 
him ? How long before we can bring 
him home?" 

There was silence. Janet finished 
her brandy. She leaned back, light- 
ing a cigarette. Smoke drifted across 
to Ed, blending with the pale light. 
"Ed, I don't think you understand. 
You've been out there so long. A lot 
has happened since you were a 
child. New methods, new tech- 
niques. They've found out so many 
things they didn't know. They're 
making progress, for the first time. 
They know what to do. They're 
developing a real methodology for 
dealing with children. For the 
growth period. Attitude develop- 
ment. Training." She smiled bright- 
ly at Ed. "I've been reading all 
about it." 

"How long before we get him?" 

"In a few days he'll be released 
from the hospital. He'll go to a 
child guidance center. He'll be 
tested and studied. They'll deter- 
mine his various capacities and his 
latent abilities. The direction his 
development seems to be taking." 

"And then?" 

"Then he's put in the proper 
educational division. So he'll get the 
right training. Ed, you know, I 
think he's really going to 6e some- 
thing! I could tell by the way Doc- 
tor Bish looked. He was studying 

PROGENY 



the wave pattern charts when I 
came in. He had a look on his face. 
How can I describe it?" She 
searched for the word. "Well, al- 
most — almost a greedy look. Real 
excitement. They take so much in- 
terest in what they're doing. He — " 

"Don't say he. Say it." 

"Ed, really! What's got into 
you?" 

"Nothing." Ed glared sullenly 
down. "Go on." 

"They make sure he's trained in 
the right direction. All the time he's 
there ability tests are given. Then, 
when he's about nine, he'll be trans- 
ferred to — " 

"Nine! You mean nine years?" 

"Of course." 

"But when do we get him?" 

"Ed, I thought you knew about 
this. Do I have to go over the whole 
thing?" 

"My God, Jan! We can't wait 
nine years!" Ed jerked himself up- 
right. "I never heard of such a 
thing. Nine years? Why, he'll be 
half grown by then." 

"That's the point." Janet leaned 
toward him, resting her bare elbow 
against the table. "As long as he's 
growing he has to be with them. 
Not with us. Afterwards, when he's 
finished growing, when he's no 
longer so plastic, then we can be 
with him all we want." . 

"Afterwards? When he's eight- 
een?" Ed leaped up, pushing his 
chair back. "I'm going down there 
and get him." 

"Sit down, Ed." Janet gazed up 
calmly, one supple arm thrown 
lightly over the back of her chair. 
"Sit down and act like an adult, for 
a change." 

"Doesn't it matter to you? Don't 
you care?" 



"Of course I care." Janet 
shrugged. "But it's necessary. 
Otherwise he won't develop cor- 
rectly. It's for his good. Not ours. 
He doesn't exist for us. Do you want 
him to have conflicts?" 

Ed moved away from the table, 
"I'll see you later." 

"Where are you going?" 

"Just around. I can't stand this 
kind of place. It bothers me. I'll see 
you later." Ed pushed across the 
room to the door. The door opened 
and he found himself on the shiny 
noon-day street. Hot sunlight beat 
down on him. He blinked, adjusting 
himself to the blinding light. People 
streamed around him. People and 
noise. He moved with them. 

He was dazed. He had known, of 
course. It was there in the back of 
his mind. The new developments in 
child care. But it had been abstract, 
general. Nothing to do with him. 
With his child. 

He calmed himself, as he walked 
along. He was getting all upset 
about nothing. Janet was right, of 
course. It was for Peter's good. 
Peter didn't exist for them, like a 
dog or cat. A pet to have around 
the house. He was a human being, 
with his own life. The training was 
for him, not for them. It was to 
develop him, his abilities, his pow- 
ers. He was to be molded, realized, 
brought out. 

Naturally, robots could do the 
best job. Robots could train him 
scientifically, according to a ration- 
al technique. Not according to emo- 
tional whim. Robots didn't get 
angry. Robots didn't nag and 
whine. They didn't spank a child or 
yell at him. They didn't give con- 
flicting orders. They didn't quarrel 
among themselves or use the child 

70: 



for their own ends. And there could 
be no Oedipus Complex, with only 
robots around. 

No complexes at all. It had been 
discovered long ago that neurosis 
could be traced to childhood train- 
ing. To the way parents brought up 
the child. The inhibitions he was 
taught, the manners, the lessons, the 
punishments, the rewards. Neuroses, 
complexes, warped development, 
all stemmed from the subjective re- 
lationship existing between the 
child and the parent. If perhaps the 
parent could be eliminated as a 
factor . . . 

Parents could never become ob- 
jective about their children. It was 
always a biased, emotional projec- 
tion the parent held toward the 
child. Inevitably, the parent's view 
was distorted. No parent could be a 
fit instructor for his child. 

Robots could study the child, 
analyze his needs, his wants, test 
his abilities and interests. Robots 
would not try to force the child to 
fit a certain mold. The child would 
be trained along his own lines; 
wherever scientific study indicated 
his interest and need lay. 

Ed came to the corner. Traffic 
whirred past him. He stepped ab- 
sently forward. 

A clang and crash. Bars dropped 
in front of him, stopping him. A 
robot safety control. 

"Sir, be more careful!" the 
strident voice came, close by him. 

"Sorry." Ed stepped back. The 
control bars lifted. He waited for 
the lights to change. It was for 
Pete's own good. Robots could train 
him right. Later on, when he was 
out of his growth stage, when he 
was not so pliant, so responsive — 

"It's better for him," Ed mur- 

PHIUP K. DICK 



mured. He said it again, half aloud. 
Some people glanced at him and he 
colored. Of course it was better for 
him. No doubt about it. 

Eighteen. He couldn't be with his 
son until he was eighteen. Practical- 
ly grown up. 

The Hghts changed. Deep in 
thought, Ed crossed the street 
with the other pedestrians, keeping 
carefully inside the safety lane. It 
was best for Peter. But eighteen 
years was a long time. 

"A hell of a long time," Ed mur- 
mured, frowning. "Too damn long 
a time." 



DOCTOR 2g-Y Bish carefully 
studied the man standing in 
front of him. His relays and memory 
banks clicked, narrowing down the 
image identification, flashing a 
variety of comparison possibilities 
past the scanner. 

"I recall you, sir," Doctor Bish 
said at last. "You're the man from 
Proxima. From the colonies. Doyle. 
Edward Doyle. Let's see. It was 
some time ago. It must have 
been—" 

"Nine years ago," Ed Doyle said 
grimly. "Exactly nine years ago, 
practically to the day." 

Doctor Bish folded his hands. 
"Sit down, Mr. Doyle. What can I 
do for you? How is Mrs. Doyle? 
Very engaging wife, as I recall. We 
had a delightful conversation dur- 
ing her delivery. How — " 

"Doctor Bish, do you know where 
my son is?" 

Doctor Bish considered, tapping 
his fingers on the desk top, the 
polished mahogany surface. He 
closed his eyes slightly, gazing off 
into the distance. "Yes. . Yes, I 

PROGENY 



know where your son is, Mr. 
Doyle." 

Ed Doyle relaxed. "Fine." He 
nodded, letting his breath out in 
relief. 

"I know exactly where your son 
is. I placed him in the Los Angeles 
Biological Research Station about a 
year ago. He's undergoing special- 
ized training there. Your son, Mr. 
Doyle, has shown exceptional abil- 
ity. He is, shall I say, one of the 
few, the very few we have found 
with real possibilities." 

"Can I see him?" 

"See him? How do you mean?" 

Doyle controlled himself with an 
effort. "I think the term is clear." 

Doctor Bish rubbed his chin. His 
photocell brain whirred, operating 
at maximum velocity. Switches 
routed power surges, building up 
loads and leaping gaps rapidly, as 
he contemplated the man before 
him. "You wish to view him? That's 
one meaning of the term. Or do you 
wish to talk to him? Sometimes the 
term^is used to cover a more direct 
contact. It's a loose word." 

"I want to talk to him." 

"I see." Bish slowly drew some 
forms from the dispenser on his 
desk. "There are a few routine pa- 
pers that have to be filled out first, 
of course. Just how long did you 
want to speak to him?" 

Ed Doyle gazed steadily into 
Doctor Bish's bland face. "I want to 
talk to him several hours. Alone." 

"Alone?" 

"No robots around." 

Doctor Bish said nothing. He 
stroked the papers he held, creas- 
ing the edges with his nail. "Mr. 
Doyle," he said carefully, "I wonder 
if you're in a proper emotional state 
to visit your son. You haye recently 

71 



come in from the colonies?" 

"I left Proxima three weeks ago." 

"Then you have just arrived here 
in Los Angeles?" 

"That's right." 

"And you've come to see your 
son? Or have you other business?" 

"I came for my son." 

"Mr. Doyle, Peter is at a very 
critical stage. He has just recently 
been transferred to the Biology 
Station for his higher training. Up 
to now his training has been gen- 
eral. What we call the non-dif- 
ferentiated stage. Recently he has 
entered a new period. Within the 
last six months Peter has begun ad- 
vanced work along his specific line, 
that of organic chemistry. He 
wiU— » 

"What does Peter think about 
it?" 

Bish frowned. "I don't under- 
stand, sir." 

"How does he feel? Is it what he 
wants?" 

"Mr. Doyle, your son has the pos- 
sibility of becoming one of the 
world's finest bio-chemists. In all 
the time we have worked with hu- 
man beings, in their training and 
development, we have never come 
across a more alert and integrated 
faculty for the assimilation of data, 
construction of theory, formulation 
of material, than that which your 
son possesses. All tests indicate he 
will rapidly rise to the top of his 
chosen field. He is still only a child, 
Mr. Doyle, but it is the children 
who must be trained." 

Doyle stood up. "Tell me where I 
can find him. I'll talk to him for 
two hours and then the rest is up 
to him." 

"The rest?" 

Doyle clamped his jaw shut. He 

m 



shoved his hands in his pockets. His 
face was flushed and set, grim with 
determination. In the nine years he 
had grown much heavier, more 
stocky and florid. His thinning hair 
had turned iron-gray. His clothes 
were dumpy and unpressed. He 
looked stubborn. 

Doctor Bish sighed. "All right, 
Mr. Doyle. Here are the papers. 
The law allows you to observe your 
boy whenever you make proper ap- 
plication. Since he is out of his non- 
differentiated stage, you may also 
speak to him for a period of ninety 
minutes." 

"Alone." 

"You can take him away from 
the Station grounds for that length 
of time." Doctor Bish pushed the 
papers over to Doyle. "Fill these 
out, and I'll have Peter brought 
here." 

He looked up steadily at the man 
standing before him. 

"I hope you'll remember that any 
emotional experience at this crucial 
stage may do much to inhibit his 
development. He has chosen his 
field, Mr. Doyle. He must be per- 
mitted to grow along his selected 
lines, unhindered by situational 
blocks. Peter has been in contact 
with our technical staff throughout 
his entire training period. He is not 
accustomed to contact with other 
human beings. So please be care- 
ful." 

Doyle said nothing. He grabbed 
up the papers and plucked out his 
fountain pen. 



HE HARDLY recognized his 
son when the two robot at- 
tendants brought him out of the 
massive concrete Station building 



PHILIP K. DICK 



and deposited him a few yards from 
Ed's parked surface car. 

Ed pushed the door open. "Pete!" 
His heart was thumping heavily, 
painfully. He watched his son come 
toward the car, frowning in the 
bright sunlight. It was late after- 
noon, about four. A faint breeze 
blew across the parking lot, rustling 
a few papers and bits of debris. 

Peter stood slim and straight. His 
eyes were large, deep brown, like 
Ed's. His hair was light, almost 
blonde. More like Janet's. He had 
Ed's jaw, though, the firm line, 
clean and well-chiseled. Ed grinned 
at him. Nine years It had been. 
Nine years since the robot attendant 
had lifted the wire rack up from 
the conveyor pot, to show him the 
little wrinkled baby, red as a boiled 
lobster. 

Peter had grown. He was not a 
baby any longer. He was a young 
boy, straight and proud, with firm 
features and wide, clear eyes. 

"Pete," Ed said. "How the hell 
are you?" • 

The boy stopped by the door of 
the car. He gazed at Ed calmly. His 
eyes flickered, taking in the car, the 
robot driver, the heavy-set man in 
the rumpled tweed suit grinning 
nervously at him. 

"Get in. Get inside." Ed moved 
over. "Come on. We have places 
to go." 

The boy was looking at him 
again. Suddenly Ed was conscious 
of his baggy suit, his unshined shoes, 
his gray stubbled chin. He flushed, 
yanking out his red pocket-hand- 
kerchief and mopping his forehead 
uneasily. "I just got off the ship, 
Pete. From Proxima. I haven't had' 
time to change. I'm a little dusty. 
Long trip." 



Peter nodded. "4.3 light years, 
isn't it?" 

"Takes three weeks. Get in. Don't 
you want to get in?" 

Peter slid in beside him. Ed 
slammed the door. 

"Let's go." The car started up. 
"Drive — " Ed peered out the win- 
dow. "Drive up there. By the hill. 
Out of town." He turned to Pete. "I 
hate big cities. I can't get used to 
them." 

"There are no large cities in the 
colonies, are there?" Peter mur- 
mured. "You're unused to urban 
living." 

Ed settled back. His heart had 
begun to slow down to its normal 
beat. "No, as a matter of fact it's 
the other way around, Pete." 

"How do you mean?" 

"I went to Prox because I 
couldn't stand cities." 

Peter said nothing. The surface 
car was climbing, going up a steep 
highway into the hills. The Station, 
huge and impressive, spread out 
like a heap of cement bricks di- 
rectly below them. A few cars 
moved along the road, but not 
many. Most transportation was by 
air, now. Surface cars had begun 
to disappear. 

The road levelled off. They 
moved along the ridge of the hills. 
Trees and bushes rose on both sides 
of them. "It's nice up here," Ed 
said. 

"Yes." 

"How — how have you been? I 
haven't seen you for a long time. 
Just once. Just after you were 
born." 

"I know. Your visit is listed in the 
records." 

"You been getting along all 
right?" 



PROGENY 



73 



"Yes. Quite well." 

"They treating you all right?" 

"Of course." 

After awhile Ed leaned forward, 
"Stop here," he said to the robot 
driver. 

The car slowed down, pulling 
over to the side of the road. "Sir, 
there is nothing — " 

"This is fine. Let us out. We'll 
walk from here." 

The car stopped. The door slid 
reluctantly open. Ed stepped quick- 
ly out of the car, onto the pave- 
ment. Peter got out slowly after 
him, puzzled. "Where are we?" 

"No place." Ed slammed the 
door. "Go on back to town," he 
said to the driver. "We won't need 
you." 

The car drove off. Ed walked to 
the side of the road. Peter came aft- 
er him. The hill dropped away, fall- 
ing down to the beginnings of the 
city below. A vast panorama 
stretched out, the great metropolis 
in the late afternoon sun. Ed took 
a deep breath, throwing his arms 
out. He took off his coat and tossed 
it over his shoulder. 

"Come on." He started down the 
hillside. "Here we go." 

"Where?" 

"For a walk. Let's get off this 
damn road." 

They climbed down the side of 
the hill, walking carefully, holding 
onto the grass and roots jutting out 
from the soil. Finally they came to 
a level place by a big sycamore tree. 
Ed threw himself down on the 
ground, grunting and wiping sweat 
from his neck. 

"Here. Let's sit here." 

Peter sat down carefully, a little 
way off. Ed's blue shirt was stained 
with sweat. He unfastened his tie 

74 



and loosened his collar. Presently 
he searched through his coat 
pockets. He brought out his pipe 
and tobacco. 

Peter watched him fill the pipe 
and light it with a big sulphur 
match. "What's that?" he mur- 
mured. 

"This? My pipe." Ed grinned, 
sucking at the pipe. "Haven't you 
ever seen a pipe?" 

"No." 

"This is a good pipe. I got this 
when I first went out to Proxima. 
That was a long time ago, Pete. It 
was twenty-five years ago. I was 
just nineteen, then. Only about 
twice as old as you." 

He put his tobacco away and 
leaned back, his heavy face serious, 
preoccupied. 

"Just nineteen. I went out there 
as a plumber. Repair and sales, 
when I could make a sale. Terran 
Plumbing. One of those big ads you 
used to see. Unlimited opportun- 
ities. Virgin lands. Make a million. 
Gold in the streets." Ed laughed. 

"How did you make out?" 

"Not bad. Not bad at all. I own 
my own line, now, you know. I 
service the whole Proxima system. 
We do repairing, maintenance, 
building. Construction. I've got six 
hundred people working for me. It 
took a long time. It didn't come 
easy." 

"No." 

"Hungry?" 

Peter turned. "What?" 

"Are you hungry?" Ed pulled a 
brown paper parcel from his coat 
and unwrapped it. "I still have a 
couple sandwiches from the trip. 
When I come in from Prox I bring 
some food along with me. I don't 
like to buy in the diner. They skin 

PHILIP K. DICK 



you." He held out the parcel. 
"Want one?" 

"No thank you." 

Ed took a sandwich and began 
to eat. He ate nervously, glancing 
at his son. Peter sat silently, a short 
distance off, staring ahead without 
expression. His smooth handsome 
face was blank. 

"Everything all right?" Ed said. 

"Yes." 

"You're not cold, are you?" 

"No." 

"You don't want to catch cold." 

A squirrel crossed in front of 
them, hurrying toward the syca- 
more tree. Ed threw it a piece of 
his sandwich. The squirrel ran off 
a way, then came back slowly. It 
scolded at them, standing up on its 
hind feet, its great gray tail flowing 
out behind it. 

Ed laughed. "Look at him. Ever 
see a squirrel before?" 
• "I don't think so." 

The squirrel ran off with the 
piece of sandwich. It disappeared 
among the brush and bushes. 

"Squirrels don't exist out around 
Prox," Ed said. 

"No." 

"It's good to come back to Terra 
once in awhile. See some of the old 
things. They're going, though." 

"Going?" 

"Away. Destroyed. Terra is al- 
ways changing." Ed waved around 
at the hillside. "This will be gone, 
someday. They'll cut down the 
trees. Then they'll level it. Someday 
they'll carve the whole range up 
and carry it off. Use it for fill, some- 
place along the coast." 

"That's beyond our scope," Peter 
said. 

"What?" 

"I don't receive that type of 

PROGENY 



material. I think Doctor Bish told 
you. I'm working with bio-chem- 
istry." 

"I know," Ed murmured. "Say, 
how the hell did you ever get mixed 
up with that stuff? Bio-chemistry?" 

"The tests showed that my abil- 
ities lie along those lines." 

"You enjoy what you're doing?" 

"What a strange thing to ask. Of 
course I enjoy what I'm doing. It's 
the work I'm fitted for." 

"It seems funny as hell to me, 
starting a nine year old kid off on 
something like that." 

"Why?" • •• 

"My God, Pete. When I was nine 
I was bumming around town. In 
school sometimes, outside mostly, 
wandering here and there. Playing. 
Reading. Sneaking into the rocket 
launching yards all the time." He 
considered. "Doing all sorts of 
things. When I was sixteen I 
hopped over to Mars. I stayed there 
awhile. Worked as a hasher. I went 
on to Ganymede. Ganymede was 
all sewed up tight. Nothing doing 
there. From Ganymede I went out 
to Prox. Got a work-away all the 
way out. Big freighter." 

"You stayed at Proxima?" 

"I sure did. I found what I 
wanted. Nice place, out there. Now 
we're starting on to Sirius, you 
know." Ed's chest swelled. "I've got 
an outlet in the Sirius system. Little 
retail and service place." 

"Sirius is 8.8 light years from 
Sol." 

"It's a long way. Seven weeks, 
from here. Rough grind. Meteor 
swarms. Keeps things hot all the 
way out." 

"I can imagine." 

"You know what I thought I 
might do?" Ed turned toward his 

75 



son, his face alive with hope and 
enthusiasm. "I've been thinking it 
over. I thought maybe I'd go out 
there. To Sirius. It's a fine little 
place we have. I drew up the plans 
myself. Special design to fit with the 
characteristics of the system." 

Peter nodded. 

"Pete—" 

"Yes?" 

"Do you think maybe you'd be 
interested? Like to hop out to Sirius 
and take a look? It's a good place. 
Four clean planets. Never touched. 
Lots of room. Miles and miles of 
room. Cliffs and mountains. 
Oceans. Nobody around. Just a few 
colonists, families, some construc- 
tion. Wide, level plains." 

"How do you mean, interested?" 

"In going all the way out." Ed's 
face was pale. His. mouth twitched 
nervously. "I thought maybe you'd 
like to come along and see how 
things are. It's a lot like Prox was, 
twenty-five years ago. It's good and 
clean out there. No cities." 

Peter smiled. 

"Why are you smiling?" 

"No reason." Peter stood up 
abruptly. "If we have to walk back 
to the Station we better start. Don't 
you think? It's getting late." 

"Sure." Ed struggled to his feet. 
"Sure, but—" 

"When are you going to be back 
in the Sol system again?" 

"Back?" Ed followed after his 
son. Peter climbed up the hill to- 
ward the road. "Slow down, will 
you?" 

Peter slowed down. Ed caught up 
with him. 

"I don't know when I'll be back. 
I don't come here very often. No 
ties. Not since Jan and I separated. 
As a matter of fact I came here 

M 



this time to — " 

"This way." Peter started down 
the road. 

Ed hurried along beside him, 
fastening his tie and putting his 
coat on, gasping for breath. "Pete, 
what do you say? You want to hop 
out to Sirius with me? Take a look? 
It's a nice place out there. We could 
work together. The two of us. If 
you want." 

"But I already have my work." 

"That stuff? That damn chem- 
istry stuff?" 

Peter smiled again. 

Ed scowled, his face dark red. 
"Why are you smiling?" he de- 
manded. His son did not answer. 
"What's the matter? What's so 
damn funny?" • 

"Nothing," Peter said. "Don't 
become excited. We have a long 
walk down." He increased his pace 
slightly, his supple body swinging in 
long, even strides. "It's getting late. 
We have to hurry." 



DOCTOR BISH examined his 
wristwatch, pushing back his 
pinstriped coat sleeve. "I'm glad 
you're back." 

"He sent the surface car away," 
Peter murmured. "We had to walk 
down the hill on foot." 

It was dark outside. The Station 
lights were coming on automatical- 
ly, along the rows of buildings and 
laboratories. 

Doctor Bish rose from his desk. 
"Sign this, Peter. Bottom of this 
form." 

Peter signed. "What is it?" 

"Certifies you saw him in accord 
with the provisions of the law. We 
didn't try to obstruct you in any 
way." 

PHILIP K. DICK 



Peter handed the paper back. 
Bish filed it away with the others. 
Peter moved toward the door of the 
doctor's office. "I'll go. Down to the 
cafeteria for dinner." 

"You haven't eaten?" 
■ "No." 

Doctor Bish folded his arms, 
studying the boy. "Well?" he said. 
"What do you think of him? This is 
the first time you've seen your fa- 
ther. It must have been strange for 
you. You've been around us so 
much, in all your training and 
work." 

"It was — ^unusual." 

"Did you gain any impressions? 
Was there any thing you particu- 
larly noticed?" 

"He was very emotional. There 
was a distinct bias through every- 
thing he said and did. A distortion 
present, virtually uniform." 

"Anything else?" 

Peter hesitated, lingering at the 
door. He broke into a smile. "One 
other thing." 

"What was it?" 

"I noticed — " Peter laughed. "I 
noticed a distinct odor about him. 
A constant pungent smell, all the 
time I was with him." 

"I'm afraid that's true of all of 
them," Doctor Bish said. "Certain 
skin glands. Waste products thrown 
oflf from the blood. You'll get used 



to it, after you've been around them 
more." 

"Do I have to be around them?" 

"They're your own race. How 
else can you work with them? Your 
whole training is designed with that 
in mind. When we've taught you all 
we can, then you will — " 

"It reminded me of something. 
The pungent odor. I kept thinking 
about it, all the time I was with 
him. Trying to place it." 

"Can you identify it now?" 

Peter reflected. He thought hard, 
concentrating deeply. His small 
face wrinkled up. Doctor Bish 
waited patiently by his desk, his 
arms folded. The automatic heating 
system clicked on for the night, 
warming the room with a soft glow 
that drifted gently around them. 

"I know!" Peter exclaimed sud- 
denly. 

"What was it?" 

"The animals in the biology labs. 
It was the same smell. The same 
smell as the experimental animals." 

They glanced at each other, the 
robot doctor and the promising 
young boy. Both of them smiled, a 
secret, private smile. A smile of 
complete understanding. 

"I believe I know what you 
mean," Doctor Bish said. "In fact, 
I know exactly what you mean." 



THE JUNGLE, in the December issue, is the first story by Charles 
Beaumont to appear in IF since his much reprinted The Beautiful 
People. It is a story of human terror and the clash of two cultures, 
one of the distant tomorrow and one of the ancient yesterday, in 
a city carved out of the steaming jungle. Which will survive? . . . 
It's a novelette, by one of America's outstanding young writers, 
that will rate with the best science fiction you have read all year. . 
Don't miss it! 

PROGENY - 77 



Illustrated by Virgil Finlay 



THE 
HONORED PROPHET 

The black dwarf sun sent its assassin on a mission which was 
calculated to erase the threat to its existence. 

But prophesies run in strange patterns and, sometimes, an act 
of evasion becomes an act of fulfillment . . , 

BY WILLIAM E. BENTLEY 





THE RULER of a planet with 
a black dwarf sun had called 
a meeting of the council. It was 
some time before they were assem- 
bled, and he waited patiently with- 
out thought. 

When the patchwork of mental- 
ities was complete he allowed the 
condusions of the prognosticator to 
occupy his mind. A wall of unani- 
mous incredulity sprang up. The 
statement was that when the in- 
habitants of a distant planet 
achieved space flight they would 
come to this planet, and use a weap- 
on invented by an individual to 
destroy it. The prognosticator could 
not lie, and soon the facade dis- 
solved into individual reactions as 
acceptance becarhe general. Anger, 
fear, resignation, and greedy little 
thoughts of self-aggrandizement. 
Those thoughts were replaced by a 
quiescent, questioning receptivity. 
The questioning grew out of pro- 
portion, became hysterical, assumed 
the panic shape. Self-preservation 
demanding that there be a solution. 
Minor prophecies had been evaded 
before. Details of the individual had 
been supplied, could not something 
be done? 

The Assassin was summoned. 

The pattern of Dr. Simon Cart- 
wright's encephalic emanations, 
and the approximate position of the 
center of these emanations were 
impressed on its mind. And in a 
strangely bulbous ship it plunged 
outward from that eternally dark 
and silent planet towards Earth. 



A MAN was walking along a 
road. A high road. A silent, 
dark road. Below him on both sides 
of the road flat marshland swept 



19 



away, and a little wind caressed 
him with chill fingers. His tiny 
world of road beneath him, dark- 
ness around him, sky above him, 
contained only the sound of his 
footsteps — and one other. A regular, 
liquid sound. He thought it was a 
sound from the marsh. He listened 
to it, and wondered how long it 
had been with hirn. It was close 
behind him on the road. He 
stopped, turned round in small 
curiosity, and bellowed in great hor- 
ror. He threw up his hands against 
an immense bulk, a frog-like shape, 
a lurching, flowing movement. 
Then it was upon him, and stilled 
his futile writhings, and passed over 
him, and left him dead. 

The Assassin continued along the 
road. It was aware that it had killed, 
but it could not contemplate the 
fact. It possessed all the mental 
powers of its race, but its condition- 
ing had focused them in one direc- 
tion, the assassination of Dr. Cart- 
wright. It could consider only those 
factors which had a direct relation 
to that purpose. 

Daylight was one of those factors. 

It was not aware of the passage of 
time, but when the sensitive patch 
on its back began to contract it left 
the road and went to the marsh. 
There it burrowed into the slime 
until green-flecked water closed 
over it. And deeper until a depth of 
mud protected it from the sun. 

Dr. Cartwright groaned and sat 
up in bed. He silenced the ringing 
telephone by putting the receiver 
to his ear. 

"Do you know what time it is?" 
he asked, aggrieved. 

"Hello? Doctor Cartwright? This 
is the police." 

80 



"It is half-past seven," continued 
Simon. "For me, the middle of the 
night. I am in no fit state to meas- 
ure a drunk's reactions." 

"I'm sorry, sir, but there's been 
an accident. On the Waverton 
Highway. A man is dead. Inspector 
Andrews is in charge of the case." 

"Inspector Andrews? Is mayhem 
suspected? Never mind, I'll get 
down there, right away." 

He put the receiver down and 
got out of bed. His wife mut- 
tered something unintelligible and 
wrapped his share of the blankets 
round her. Simon went downstairs. 
He made a cup of coffee and drank 
it while he dressed. The engine of 
his car was cold, but his house was 
on a hill and he was able to coast 
down to the Highway. 

The road was level and straight, 
and after a few minutes driving a 
little tableau came into sight — two 
cars, a group of uniforms. Inspec- 
tor Andrews, tall, thin, dyspeptic, 
greeted him with a limp handshake. 
"Something funny about this," he 
said. "See what you think." 

Simon went down on one knee 
beside the body and began to undo 
the clothing. After a time he looked 
up into the sky. "This is very 
strange," he murmured. 

"I know," grunted Andrews. 
"Can they take the body now?" 

Simon stood up and nodded. He 
remained staring out across the 
marsh until the body had been re- 
moved, and the ambulanCe a dis- 
tant object. Then he went and sat 
in his car. Andrews finished giving 
instructions to his Sergeant, and 
joined him. "I'll let you give me 
breakfast," he said. 

"You're very kind," said Simon 
absently, and released the brake. 

WILLIAM E. BENTLEY 



"Any use asking for the cause of 
death?" asked Andrews. 

"Oh, the cause of death was 
crushing, but the cause of the cause 
of death — " Simon shook- his head. 
"There wasn't an unbroken bone 
in his body. Could he have been 
dropped from an airplane?" 

Andrews shook a ponderous 
head. "He was a bus driver on his 
way to work without an enemy in 
the world. And I've a feeling his 
death is going to keep me awake at 
nights. Anyway, Sergeant Bennet is 
going over the area with a magnify- 
ing glass. We'll put up a pretty good 
show. Can you suggest anything?" 

"It wasn't a car," said Simon 
carefully. "The skin was unbroken, 
except from the inside. I can only 
imagine something like a rubber- 
covered steam-roller." 



THAT NIGHT the Assassin 
killed two people. 

When it grew dark it heaved it- 
self up out of the slime. A long busi- 
ness of bodily expansion and con- 
traction. Two men were on the road 
and heard the noise it made. 

"Somethin' out there." 

"Stray cow, maybe." 

They stood and peered into the 
dark, trying to see a familiar shape. 
The Assassin approached them, and 
was too big for them to see. They 
stood in its path and looked for a 
familiar object in the blackness of 
its body. So the instant of appre^ 
hension was small, the panic arid 
exertion soon over. Without paus- 
ing the Assassin moved over them 
and continued on its way. 

A little later Inspector Andrews 
found them. He was in a radio pa- 
trol car, and he was moving in the 

THE HONORED PROPHET 



same direction as the Assassin. With 
him in the car were three large men 
carrying automatic rifles. Andrews 
stopped the car, and one of the men 
got out and knelt by the bodies. 
Andrews watched him somberly for 
a moment then reached for the 
microphone. He spoke to the station 
sergeant. 

"Inspector Andrews here. Send 
an ambulance out here, will you, 
and phone Doctor Cartwright. Tell 
him the steam-roller's loose again. 
It may be on the road heading his 
way. Yes, steam-roller. He'll under- 
stand." 

He put the microphone down, 
called to the man on the road. "I'm 
leaving you here, Roberts. There's 
an ambulance on its way. Go back 
with it. Get in Sergeant Bennet's 
car and both of you join us up 
ahead." 

He closed the car window and re- 
leased the brake. The empty road 
began to unwind slowly into the 
area of light ahead. 

Simon put the receiver down and 
looked at his wife. She was concen- 
trating on a sock by the fire. He 
went over and kissed the top of her 
head. "Goodbye," she said. 

"Listen," he said quietly. "When 
I'm gone lock the door behind me 
and don't go out. If you hear any 
funny noises go down to the cellar. 
Understand?" 

She was a little frightened. 
"Honey, what is it?" 

He smiled. "It's nothing. Long 
John Andrews is out hunting. I'm 
going along in case he shoots him- 
self." 

He took his shot-gun off the man- 
tle and stuffed his pockets with 
cartridges. 

81 



"I'll bring you back a rabbit," he 
said. "So long." 

He drove down slowly. He was 
scared, but he was still young 
enough to find it exhilarating. The 
loaded shot-gun was a great help. 

He turned on to the highway, 
and slowed to walking pace. He 
stared into the darkness ahead until 
his eyes burned, and imagination 
peopled his surroundings with 
writhing shapes. 

Then he saw it, and the muscles 
across his chest trembled convul- 
sively. Fear clutched his stomach. 
He slammed his foot down on the 
brake and gaped up at it. It was 
standing still in the middle of the 
road, a giant, pear shaped body, 
looking something like a man kneel- 
ing upright. At the front, turned 
inwards, were a number of arm- 
like appendages. 

The shot-gun was ridiculous now, 
the car made of paper. To get out 
and run was impossible, and he 
longed to be able to sit still and do 
nothing. And the seconds dragged 
by. Time for contemplation built 
up, and a strange realization 
dropped into his seething mind. He 
sensed something about its attitude. 
A cringing, a withdrawal. "God," 
he whispered. "It doesn't like the 
light." 

He might have relaxed then, but 
it moved. One of its arms unfolded, 
swung outward holding sorriething 
metallic. Simon yelled. He grabbed 
the shot-gun, shoved the door catch 
down, threw his weight sideways. 
He landed on his shoulder and kept 
on rolling. He reached the other 
side of the road, straightened up, 
and saw the roof of the car fly off 
with a roar. He fired then, from a 
crouching position and without tak- 



ing aim. A lucky shot that hit the 
end of the weapon arm and shat- 
tered it. Then he ran, and the 
Assassin followed. 

He ran in the direction he'd been 
heading, and gave himself up to 
terror. He was primaeval man flee- 
ing from sabre-tooth. He was living 
a nightmare. His brain reeled, air 
burnt his lungs, and his pounding 
heart echoed in his temples. Then 
he was running into a blaze of light, 
between headlights that enfolded 
him like a mother's arms, and he 
was clinging to a radiator cap. Dim- 
ly he heard the crash of high pow- 
ered rifles about him. A black 
figure came into his haven of light, 
began to loosen his tie. 

"Get out of the light," he gasped. 
"It doesn't like the light." 

"Who invited -you?" grunted 
Andrews. He put Simon's arm 
round his neck, and half carried 
him round to the side of the car, 
pushed him into the front seat. 

"I'll be all right in a minute," 
said Simon. 

"Yeah," said Andrews, and left 
him. 

After a little while the trembling 
in his limbs began to subside, 
breathing became easier. He leaned 
forward and watched a strange bat- 
tle. The Assassin was about seventy 
yards ahead, moving slowly nearer. 
Two men stood on the right hand 
side of the car, pumping bullets into 
the grey, indistinct mass. Andrews 
stood watching with his hands in 
his jacket pockets. Suddenly he said, 
"All right, let go. You're only wast- 
ing bullets." 

Simon looked at him in alarm. 
"Hey, you're not just going to stand 
there. It doesn't like the light, but 
light can't kill it." 

WILLIAM E. BENTLEY 



"Lie down on the floor," said 
Andrews dourly, without looking 
at him. 

"Eh?" 

Andrews ignored him, stepped 
two paces forward. The Assassin 
was about twenty yards away now, 
seeming to have to fight against 
the stream of light. Andrews took 
his hands from his pockets. Simon 
saw what he was holding, and dived 
for the floor. He clasped his hands 
over the back of his neck as the 
night exploded with a gigantic 
crash. 

When his ears had stopped 
screaming he got up. Andrews, an 
elbow on the window ledge, was 
watching him expressionlessly. 

"You might have left me some- 
thing to dissect," complained 
Simon. "Somebody's got to, you 
know." 

"I'll mop you up a sponge full," 
said Andrews. 

"Oh, no, you won't. You and 
your men stay back here. It's prob- 
ably crawling with alien bacteria." 

Actually, quite a lot of the Assas- 
sin was left, but decomposition was 
very rapid. Simon did the best he 
could with a magnifying glass and 
a penknife. He found that the body 
was almost entirely composed of 
bone and flesh in a honey-comb like 
structure. The bone being highly 
flexible, and the cavities filled with 
grey iiesh. Flesh which quickly 
liquified and drained away from 
the bone. There was no blood, and 
Simon could find no trace of in- 
ternal organs. 

While he worked two more cars 
drove up, and gave him a little 
more light, but soon he had to give 
up. As he walked slowly back a 
spotlight sprang suddenly to life, 

THE HONORED PROPHET 



and a pleasant authoritative voice 
spoke. 

"Will you stay where you are, 
please, Doctor Cartwright." 

Simon obeyed. Hell, he thought 
wearily. Officialdom has arrived. 
He shaded his eyes against the light, 
but he could see nothing. 

"Who's that?" he asked. 

"Commanding officer in charge 
of operations in this emergency. 
You've made an examination?" 

"As far as I could. There's com- 
plete decomposition now." 

"Oh, I see." A slight pause, then ; 
"Perhaps I'd better put you in the 
picture. This is armed aggression, 
Doctor Cartwright. In any lan- 
guage it says war. Do you under- 
stand? We're at war, now. 

"We found the vessel your friend 
came in several days ago. It was in 
the sea, twenty miles from here. Its 
discovery was kept secret because 
we weren't sure of its point of 
origin. Our people are engaged in 
finding the method of propulsion. 
They say it will give us the ability 
to travel in space. They also say that 
they can find the approximate posi- 
tion of its home planet. All that is 
top priority, of course, but in the 
meanwhile we must have an emer- 
gency line of defence against these 
things. We want to know how to 
find them and how to destroy them 
with the least possible expenditure 
of life and material. You under- 
stand?" 

"Yes. I've got an idea about light 
waves. I fired a shot at it back there. 
The bone structure — " 

"Don't tell me," interrupted the 
voice sharply. "Remember it. You 
realize, Doctor Cartwright, that you 
are just about the most important 
man alive. You know how fast it 

0^ 



can move. You have fought it, you 
have examined it. So you can be 
sure that very good care will be 
taken of you." 

"What are you saying?" 

"I'm sorry, but you must see that 
you have to go into strict quaran- 
tine now. We dare not risk a plague. 
After quarantine you will go to 
work with our people. Now will you 
please get into the car at the ex- 
treme right, and follow the police." 

"Where am I going?" 

"Please hurry. There is a team 
of incendiaries waiting to clear the 
area." 

"Oh, damnation," sighed The 
Most Important Man Alive, and 
walked towards the waiting car. 



WHEN THE_ ruler consulted 
the prognosticator again, after 
the Assassin's failure had been 



recorded, he found that a qualifica- 
tion had been added. The prophecy 
was now being fulfilled. He con- 
sidered this dispassionately. He 
visualised the complex pattern of 
implication almost with pleasure. 
Was the machine alive? Certainly 
it could contemplate itself. It had 
calculated the effect of its existence, 
and had used the knowledge to 
destroy them. Or had they con- 
demned themselves? By losing the 
ability to question. For the informa- 
tion on which the prophecy was 
based could have been available to 
them. Or was the machine only 
obeying a greater Fate? A Decree, 
stating that any life-form that sur- 
rendered itself to the dictates of a 
machine was doomed. 

One thing alone was left to him. 
A choice. Without haste he began 
the preliminaries to thinking him- 
self to death. • • • 



IF YOU ARE COLLECTING if 

A FEW weeks ago we asked our printers if they would look in the 
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see if they had any back copies of IF hanging around collecting dust 
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Copies of IF — for your collection, of course — just send us 35 cents for 
each copy ordered. Available issues are listed below. Address: IF 
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Vol. 2, No. 1, March 1953 Vol. 3, No. 4, June 1954 

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Vol. 2, No. 4, Sept. 1953 Vol. 3, No. 6, Aug. 1954 

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5VVVVHMMAA\V\/\\VVV\\VVVVVVVV\VVVVWVVVV^^ 



84 



Only fear can 
hold You back 






... for 



"There is a Time When Vour lue! 




Three years ago Marguerite Carter published this very true and, 
at the time, unbelievable statement— "Russia is headed toward in- 
ternal revolt and new leadership." Since then, Stalin died and new 
leaders have risen with rumblings of discord behind her CurtainI 

Today Miss Carter says, "Spain and Germany will be our first line 
of defense— we will bring forth a new monetary plan. 

Marguerite Carter has studied many years, keeping records that 
may be used to help mankind. She is sincerely earnest in her life's 
purpose which is to give help where it is needed. 

Write to Marguerite Carter today. Don't let fear hold you back! 
The time is NOW. 



MAIL 

COUPON 
NOW 

You can also order the 
forecast of any one near 
and dear to you. Send 
complete birth informa- 
tion on separata sheet of 
paper. 

Marguerite Carter 

702 Jackson BIdg. 
Indianapolii, Ind. 



MARGUERITE CARTER 

703 Jackson BIdg., Indianapolis, Ind. 

I anclose: 

D $2 for my SPECIAL forecast with notations 

by Marguerite Carter. 
□ $1 for my forecast by Marguerite Carter. 



IF>I1 



Name_ 



Address_ 
City 



-State- 



Ploce of Birth- 
Dote of Birth- 



Year 



[ttour if known) 



Illustrated by Kelly Freas 



The Hitch Hikers 

The Rell, a great and ancient Martian race, faced extinction 
when all moisture was swept from their planet. 

Then, one day, a lone visitor — a strange, two-legged creature 
composed mostly of water — landed on Mars. ... 

BY VERNON L. MC CAIN 



THE DEHYDRATION of tKe 
planet had taken centuries in 
all. The Rell had still been a great 
race when the process started. Con- 
struction of the canals was a pro- 
digious feat but not a truly remark- 
able one. But what use are even 
canals when there is nothing to fill 
them? 

What cosmic influences might 
have caused the disaster bafHed 
even the group-mind of the Rell. 
Through the eons the atmosphere 
had drifted into space; and with it 
went the life-giving moisture. Orig- 
inally a liquid paradise, the planet 
was now a dry, hostile husk. 



TKe large groups of Rell had 
been the first to suffer. But in time 
even the tiny villages containing 
mere quadrillions of the sub-micro- 
scopic entities had found too little 
moisture left to satisfy their thirst 
and the journey ever southward to- 
ward the pole had commenced. 
- The new life was bitter and dif- 
ficult and as their resources were 
depleted so also did their numbers 
diminish. 

Huddled at their last retreat the 
Rell watched the ever smaller ice 
cap annually diminish and lived 
with the knowledge they faced ex- 
tinction. A mere thousand years 



86 



more would see even this trifling 
remainder gone. 

Oh, you might say there was 
hope ... of a sort. There might be 
Rell in the northern hemisphere. 
The canals girdled the globe and 
a similar ice cap could well exist 
at the opposite pole. Rell perhaps 
survived there also. 

But this was scant comfort. The 
fate of the Rell in the South was 
sealed. What hope of any brighter 
future for those in the North? And 
if they survived a few hundred 
thousand years longer ... or if 
they had perished a similar period 
earlier, what actual difference did 
it make? 

There was no one more aware 
of this gloomy future than Raeillo/ 
eel3. 

In the old days a single unit of 
the group-mind of the Rell would 
have possessed but a single func- 
tion and exercised this function 
perhaps a dozen times during his 
life. But due to the inexorable 
shrinkage only the most important 
problems now could command 
mind-action and each unit had 
been forced to forsake specializa- 
tion for multi-purpose endeavors. 

Thus Raeillo/eel3 and his mate 
Raellu//2 were two of the five 
thousand units whose task was to 
multiply in any group-mind action 
involving mathematical prediction. 
Naturally Raeillo/eel3 and Raellu 
//2 did not waste their abilities 
in mundane problems not in- 
volving prediction. Nor did they 
divide, add, or subtract. That was 
assigned to other units just as 
several million of the upper groups 
had the task of sorting and in- 
terpreting their results. Raeillo/ 
eel 3 and Raellu//2 multiplied 

88 



only. And it must be admitted 
they did it very well. It is a pity 
the Rell could not have multiplied 
physically as easily as Raeillo/eel3 
and Raellu//2 multiplied mentally. 

With the exception of an oc- 
casional comet or meteor the Rell 
were seldom diverted by anything 
of a physical nature. The ice cap 
was their sole concern.. 

But one afternoon a rare physical 
phenomenon was reported by a 
bank of observer Rell. 

"In the sky's northwest portion," 
an excited injunction came 
through. "Observe that patch of 
flaming red!" 

More observer Rell were quickly 
focused on the novel sight and fur- 
ther data was rapidly fed into the 
interpretive bank. 

The Rell were justifiably proud 
of their interpreters. With the race 
shrinkage it had proved impossible 
to properly train new interpreters. 
So, not without a great deal of 
sacrifice, the old interpreters, dating 
back to when the canals still flowed 
with water, had been kept alive. 

They were incredibly ancient but 
there was no doubt as to their 
ability. It was a truism among the 
Rell that the interpretive banks ar- 
rived at their conclusions faster 
than any other group and that these 
conclusions could be checked to 
hundreds of decimal places without 
finding inaccuracy. 

So it was no surprise to have the 
interpretive bank respond almost 
instandy, "It is quite odd but the 
flame appears to be of artificial 
origin." 

"Artificial!" came the rough and 
questing probe of the speculative 
bank. "But how could Rell pos- 
sibly be out there?" 

VERNON L. MC CAIN 



"Who mentioned Rell?" was the 
interpretive bank's smug answer. 
They were not utterly averse to 
demonstrating their superior men- 
tal abilities on occasion. 

The speculative bank replied, 
"Artificial implies intelligence, and 
intelligence means Re'l . . ." 

"Does it?" the interpretive bank 
interrupted. The speculative 
bank waited but the interpretive 
bank failed to enlarge on the pro- 
vocative query. 

The Rell had found certain dis- 
advantages accrued to abnormal 
prolongation of life and thus were 
not unused to the interpretive 
bank's occasional tendency to talk 
in riddles. 

"Perhaps not" the speculative 
bank replied after a quick check 
with the logical formulae held in 
reserve by the historical bank. "It 
is theoretically possible that Rell- 
hke individuals might have de- 
veloped elsewhere, and perhaps 
even have developed intelligence, 
although, according to the histor- 
ical bank, such an idea has never 
before been subjected to considera- 
tion. But what is the flame doing?" 
they continued, a trifle resentful at 
having been left to do work prop- 
erly in the interpretive bank's prov- 
ince. 

The observation and interpre- 
tive banks once more came into 
play, studying the situation for 
several minutes. "The flame ap- 
pears to be the exhaust of a fairly 
crude vessel," the interpretive bank 
finally reported, "propelled by ig- 
nition of some gaseous mixture." 

"Is it moving?" 

"Quite rapidly." 

"Where is it going?" 

This called into play the proph- 

THE HITCH HIKERS 



ecy division of the mind and 
RaeiUo/eel3 and Raellu//2, who 
had been merely interested on- 
lookers before, hurriedly meshed 
themselves with the other forty 
nine hundred odd of their fellows. 
(It was impossible to say at any 
given time just how many there 
were in their computer section, as 
several births and deaths had oc- 
cured among the group since be- 
ginning the current observations. 
These would be suspended for the 
next several moments, however, as 
there was a strict prohibition 
against anyone being born, dying, 
or otherwise engaging in extrane- 
ous activity while their particular 
bank was either alerted or in ac- 
tion.) 

Raeillo/eel3 and Raellu//2 felt 
the group discipline take hold much 
more firmly than the free-and-easy 
mesh which each unit enjoyed 
with the complete group-mind 
during periods of leisure. 

With a speed that would have 
been dizzying and incomprehensible 
to any individual unit, the observ- 
ing banks relayed huge masses of 
extraneous data to the interpretive 
bank. They strained out the salient 
facts and in turn passed these to 
the computing: prediction section. 
Here they were routed to the 
groups who would deal with them. 
Raeillo/eel3 and Raellu//2 found 
their own talents pressed into serv- 
ice a dozen or more times in the 
space of the minute and a half it 
took the computing : prediction and 
interpretive banks to arrive at the 
answer. 

"It's aimed here," the interpre- 
tive bank reported. 

"Here!" a jumble of incoherent 
and anarchistic thoughts resounded 

89 



from many shocked and tempor- 
arily out-of-mesh units. 

"Order!" eame a sharp com- 
mand from the elite corp of three 
thousand disciplinary units. 

As stillness settled back over the 
group-mind the speculative bank 
once more came in. "By here . . . 
do you mean right here?" 

"Approximately." replied the 
interpretive bank with what would 
have sounded suspiciously like a 
chuckle in a human reply. "Ac- 
cording to calculations the craft 
should land within half a mile of 
our present location." 

"Let's go there then and wait for 
it!" That thought from the now 
seldom used reservation of impulse. 

The speculative bank murmured, 
"I wonder if there would be any 
danger. How hot is that exhaust?" 

Calculations were rapidly made 
and the answer arrived at. The Rell 
prudently decided to remain where 
they were for the present. 



CAPTAIN LEONARD BROWN, 
USAF, hunched over the in- 
struments in the cramped control 
cabin which, being the only avail- 
able space in the ship, doubled as 
living quarters. A larger man would 
have found the arrangement im- 
possible. Brown, being 5' 2" and 
weighing 105 pounds found it 
merely intolerable. 

At the moment he was tempor- 
arily able to forget his discomfort, 
however. The many tiny dials and 
indicators told a story all their own 
to Brown's trained vision. 

"Just another half hour," he 
whispered to himself. "Just thirty 
more minutes .and I'll land. It may 
be just a dead planet but I'U still 

90 



be the first." . . 

There really wasn't a great deal 
for Brown to do.. The ship was self- 
guided. The Air Force had trusted 
robot mechanisms more than hu- 
man reactions. 

Thus Brown's entire active con- 
tribution to the flight consisted in 
watching the dials (which recorded 
everything so even watching them 
was unnecessary) and in pressing 
the button which would cause the 
ship to start its return journey. 

Of course the scientists could 
have constructed another mecha- 
nism to press the button and made 
it a completely robot ship. But de- 
spite their frailties and. imperfec- 
tions, human beings have certain 
advantages. Humans can talk. 
Machines may see and detect far 
more than their human creators 
but all they can do is record. They 
can neither interpret nor satisfac- 
torily describe. 

Brown was present not only to 
report a human's reactions to the 
first Mars flight; he was also along 
to see that which the machines 
might miss. 

"We've never satisfactorily de- 
fined life," one of his instructors 
had told Brown shortly after he 
started the three grueling years of 
training which had been necessary, 
"so we can't very well build a fool- 
proof machine for detecting it. 
That's why we've left room for 105 
pounds of dead weight." 

"Meaning me?" 

"Meaning you." 

"And I'm your foolproof ma- 
chine for detecting life?" 

"Let's say you're the closest we 
can come to it at present. We're 
banking everything on this first 
trip. It'll be at least eighteen 

VERNON L. MC CAIN 



months later before we can get a 
second ship into space. So it's up 
to you to get everything you can 
. . . some evidence of life, prefer- 
ably animal, if possible. With pub- 
lic support it'll be a hell of a lot 
easier squeezing appropriations out 
of Congress for the next ship and 
to get public support we need the 
biggest possible play in the news- 
papers. If anything is newsworthy 
on Mars it should be evidence of 
life . . . even plant life." 

So here he was, 105 pounds of 
concentrated knowledge and anti- 
cipation, itching with the desire for 
action and also from more basic 
causes having to do with two 
months confinement in a small 
space with a minimum of water. 

"Life is most probable at the 
poles." the instructor had said. 
"You won't be able to stay long so 
we'll try to set you down right at 
the South Pole. You won't have 
room to bring back specimens. So 
keep your eyes open and absorb 
everything you see. Don't forget 
anything. What you bring back in 
your mind weighs nothing." 

"It's just sitting there," the ob- 
serving banks reported, "and the 
red flame has gone out." 

"Is it safe now?" enquired the 
speculative bank. 

"In what way?" 

"Is it safe to go near that thing?" 

"It's very huge," ventured the 
observing banks unasked. There 
was a stir of activity which en- 
compassed practically all except 
the most simple units and which 
lasted for perhaps five minutes 
while the speculative bank's last 
question was processed. 

Finally the interpretive bank re- 

THE HITCH HIKERS 



luctantly admitted, "We can't ar- 
rive at a positive answer. Too many 
unknown elements are present. We 
don't know for sure what caused 
the flame, when it might start 
again, or what, if anything, is in- 
side." 

"But you said it was a work of 
intelligence. Doesn't that mean 
Rell would be inside?" 

"Not necessarily. They could 
have constructed the thing to op- 
erate itself." 

It was just then that the ob- 
serving banks reported, "It's open- 
ing." 

The speculative bank quickly 
responded, "This is an emergency. 
We must be able to observe from 
close up. We'll have to approach 
it." 

"The entire mind?" enquired 
the disciplinary corps. 

The speculative bank hesitated. 
"No, we'll need to split up. One- 
fifth of us vnW go, the rest remain 
here. It's a short distance and 
we'll still be able to continue in 
complete contact." 

Those who were to go were 
quickly sorted out and Raeillo/eel3 
was quite thrilled to find he and 
Raellu//2 were included in the 
scouting party. 

The group set off briskly toward 
their objective but had moved 
hardly one hundred yards when a 
vertigo seemed to overtake them. 
Raeillo/eel3 found himself swim- 
ming helplessly in a vortex of dark- 
ness and isolation, blanked ofT from 
not only the group-mind and his 
bank but also from Raellu//2. 
Frantically he grasped for some sort 
of stasis, but dependence on the 
group-mind was too ingrained and 
he was unable to stir his long- 

91 



dormant powers of sight and ed- 
ucation. 

Then the isolation cleared to be 
replaced by a brief impression of 
chaos with perhaps a tinge of 
alienness. Another instant of ver- 
tigo followed and then everything 
was normal once more as the com- 
fortable familiar mesh took hold. 

"What was that?" Even the 
speculative bank sounded fright- 
ened. 

"Sorry." The usually silent mesh- 
ing bank sounded abashed. "We 
weren't prepared for that. Some 
sort of thought wave is issuing from 
the opening and it disrupted the 
group mesh till we were able to 
take it into calculation and rebuild 
the mesh around it." 

"Thought wave? Then there are 
Rell in that thing." 

"Do not compute before the 
mesh is set." the interpretive bank 
cautioned. "The presence of Rell, 
while extremely probable, is not 
yet entirely certain." 

Without waiting for a suggestion 
from elsewhere the disciplinary 
group ordered the entire mind for- 
ward. 

Perhaps, in time of stress, dor- 
mant qualities tend to emerge, 
Raeillo/eel3 mused. Certainly 
everyone, himself included, ap- 
peared to be exercising speculative 
qualities. Not that specialization 
isn't a marvelous blessing, he 
hastily added, in case the disci- 
plinary corps might be scanning his 
bank. But the disciplirfary corps 
itself was as fascinated by the phe- 
nomenon ahead as Raeillo/eel3. 

Emerging from the infinitely 
huge upright thing was a mobile 
being, also infinitely huge. Not that 
they were the same size. The mobile 

92 



one was small enough to fit easily 
through the opening in the lower 
portion of the larger. But beyond 
a certain point words lose meaning 
and infinitely huge was the closest 
measurement the tiny Rell could 
find for either the upright pointed 
thing or the knobby one which had 
emerged and was quickly identified 
as the source of the disrupting 
thought patterns. 



LEONARD BROWN was enjoy- 
ing himself thoroughly. The in- 
side of a space suit can scarcely be 
termed comfortable but at least you 
can move around in it and Brown 
was making the most of this sensa- 
tion after two months cramped in 
his tiny cell. He was, in fact, com- 
porting himself much as a three- 
year-old might have done after a 
similar release. 

But before long he settled down 
to the serious business of observing 
and mentally recording everything 
in sight. 

There were none of the myster- 
ious 'canals' in view, which was 
disappointing; one piece of glamour 
the publicity boys would necessarily 
forego until the next trip. The ice 
cap itself, if such it could be called, 
was almost equally disappointing. 
On Earth it would have been dis- 
missed as a mere frost patch, if this 
section was typical. For a radium of 
many yards the ground was blasted 
bare by the action of the exhaust 
and nowhere in sight did there ap- 
pear to be more than the flimsiest 
covering of white over the brown 
sandy soil. 

"Not even lichens," muttered 
Brown in disgust. 

But disgust cannot long stand 

VERNON L. MC CAIN 



against the magic of a fresh new 
planet and Brown continued his 
avid, though barren, search until 
hunger forced his return to the 
ship. He had been able to detect 
no life and was completely un- 
aware of his close proximity to the 
planet's dominant species. It had 
been considered neither practical 
nor particularly desirable to build 
a microscope into the space suit. 
Simplicity and the least possible 
weight had been the watchwords 
here as with everything designed 
to go aboard the ship. 

In any case, a microscope would 
have done Brown little good in 
trying to detect the submicroscopic 
beings of the Rell. 

The Rell, who had somewhat 
lost their fear of Brown, hastily re- 
treated when they saw him re- 
turning to the still awesome ship. 

"But are you sure he's completely 
self -powered?" the speculative bank 
queried. "No Rell inside him at 
all?" 

"There are many Rell-like beings 
in various parts of him." replied 
the interpretive bank. "Some help 
digest his food, others are pre- 
dators, and still others their en- 
emies. But most are too big and 
clumsy to have developed intelli- 
gence, and even the small ones 
appear completely mindless." 

"But where do the thought 
waves come from? We all felt 
them." 

"It's hard to accept but we are 
almost forced to conclude they are 
emanating from the mobile unit 
itself, or rather from the living part 
within the cocoon." 

"You're positive they aren't the 

THE HITCH HIKERS 



product of some of the Rell-beings 
inside?" 

"Almost positive. The mesh in- 
sists not. In fact, it claims this is 
an un-Rell like type of intelligence, 
though that appears to be a con- 
tradiction in terms. The thought 
pattern is completely outside our 
experience. In fact, it is so alien 
we haven't broken it down yet to 
the meaning behind it." 

"But if the Rell inside are too 
large to have developed intel- 
ligence, how could this gigantic 
monster in which they live have 
done so?" 

"We cannot yet say. Remember, 
the theory that intelligence cannot 
develop in creatures above a cer- 
tain size is unproven, even though 
never before challenged. We've 
watched other races die through 
failure to adapt to change so ap- 
parently it is true of Rell-like 
creatures on this world. But who 
can say about organisms on another 
world or of the unprecedented 
size of this one? Completely dif- 
ferent physical laws may apply." 

It was later that afternoon after 
the Rell had spent much time ob- 
serving Brown while Brown was 
busy observing the landscape that 
the interpretive bank made the 
triumphant announcement, "We 
have it! We've broken the thought 
waves down to their meanings and 
know what he's thinking. What 
would you like to know first?" 

"Check and see if there are any 
Rell inside the other thing or on 
his home world. They might have 
constructed him." 

"Apparently there are none, or at 
least no intelligent Rell, on his 
world. We can't guide his mind 
but the memory bank recorded all 

ii 



the thoughts we've received and 
some time ago he was thinking of 
something he termed 'vermin'. 
Apparently these are sometimes 
Rell-like creatures, although far 
larger. He regards them as a great 
nuisance, but mindless. The big 
thing, by the way, he calls a 'ship' 
and it is utterly lifeless. We needn't 
fear the flame until this creature 
leaves." 

"What about him? What is he 
like?" 

"That's the most exciting part! 
He thought of his bodily needs once 
and we glimsed a concept dealing 
with his physical construction. It's 
incredible! His body is composed 
almost entirely of water . . . there's 
enough water in him alone to 
prolong the life of the Rail many 
ages. Further, the air in his 'ship' 
is heavily impregnated with mois- 
ture and he even has reserve sup- 
plies of water for his needs." 

At this, not only Raeillo/eel3, 
but all except perhaps the most 
responsible units felt a shiver of 
primitive longing and perhaps even 
greed. Not for millenia had there 
been such a plentitude of water so 
close ! 

"Then can't we appropriate at 
least part of it?" asked the specula- 
tive bank. 

"Unfortunately both the 'man', 
as he calls himself, and his 'ship' 
are sealed so tightly that we could 
not penetrate either. Worse yet, 
almost half his time here is already 
gone. We don't quite understand 
his purpose here. His thoughts seem 
to say he is searching for Rell for 
some unfathomable reason yet he 
seems to know nothing of the Rell 
and cannot even detect us." 

94 



IT WAS the next day when the 
time was almost all gone that, 
the two big discoveries were made. 
During a routine check, the mesh 
came across a thought of the man's 
return and a visualization of his 
home world. It was so startling 
that the interpretive bank was re- 
called from its effort to try to de- 
vise a means through the spacesuit 
and set at the new problem. 

A hasty check of the man's sub- 
conscious thoughts revealed the big 
news. "Do you know," the inter- 
pretive bank announced, "not only 
does this being's home world have 
a moist atmosphere like that in his 
ship but two thirds of the surface, 
of his world is liquid water!" 

Even the speculative bank was 
silent for a full two seconds after 
this news. Then a hasty impulse 
was sent to the disciplinary corps 
and the entire mind called into 
action. An extreme emergency upon 
which the fate of the race hinged 
called for the utmost effort by even 
the humblest members of the 
group. 

The Rell worked diligently and 
many blind alleys were explored, 
but it was not for some time that 
anyone thought of enquiring of the 
not-too-bright feeding bank how 
they were managing to keep the 
mind operating at considerably 
more than normal power with no 
frost within feeding distance. 

"We're taking moisture from the 
air." was the answer. 

"Where is the moisture coming 
from?" the interpretive bank was 
asked. 

The answer didn't take long. 
Rapid measurements supplied it. 
"Some of it is vaporized frost but 
that wouldn't be enough for our 

VERNON L. MC CAIN 



needs. The only other possibility is 
that moisture must be seeping 
away from either the man or his 
ship despite his sureness that they 
were both airtight and our own 
investigations which confirmed it." 

They had mairitained a cautious 
distance from the ship for the most 
part despite the interpretive bank's 
assurance of no immediate danger. 
But now they swarmed over both 
it and the spacesuit determined to 
detect the leak. 

They found none. 

And now the man was returning 
to his ship. 

"This is the last time." the mesh 
warned. It was now or never. 

For a second there was conflict 
over control of the circuits to the 
disciplinary corps which carried 
with it command of the organism 
during the emergency. The specu- 
lative bank customarily assumed 
this responsibility, but a slight 
schism had developed between 
it and the interpretive bank. 
The latter's greater age and skill 
came into play and victory was 
quickly won. 

From the disciplinary corps came 
the order, "Stay close to the 'man'." 

The interpretive bank explained, 
"He breathes the air so he'll have 
to get to it some way." 

The defeated speculative bank 
maintained a sulky silence. 

Thus it was that the entire mind 
of the Rell rode into the interior 
of the ship through the airlock 
while clustered around Brown. 

The Rell had grasped that the 
man lived and traveled inside his 
ship and the necessity for it to be 
air tight. But so desperate were the 
two races' needs that the necessity 
for an airlock and the consequent 

THE HITCH HIKERS 



slight seepage each time it was used 
had not occured to even the inter- 
pretive bank. 

Inside, many Rell, suddenly in- 
toxicated by the heady moisture- 
laden air, commenced uniting with 
each other then splitting away, each 
such union resulting in another unit 
of Rell, naturally. The interpretive 
bank again seized control. 

"Stop it! Stop it this instant!" 
it snapped. "Reproduction must be 
kept to the former minimum for 
now. That is a firm order." 

Reluctantly the process was 
halted. The interpretive bank ex- 
plained, "It would not take long 
for us to use up the entire supply of 
water if we indulged in uncontrol- 
led reproduction. That might en- 
danger the whole trip." 

"What do we do now?" the 
speculative bank finally asked. 

"There is no way of knowing 
positively whether the man uses 
this same atmosphere until he re- 
turns to his world or not. For our 
own safety it would seem best, since 
Rell-like creatures already inhabit 
him, that we join them. If any 
place is safe it will be his interior. 
And there is plenty of moisture 
within to sustain us. But we must be 
good parasites," the interpretive 
bank warned. "Remember, no un- 
due reproduction no matter how 
many quarts of moisture seem to be 
going to waste inside this 'man'. 
He may need it himself and if he 
does riot survive the ship might 
not complete its trip." 

Brown was just emerging from 
his space suit so the Rell chose his 
closest available body opening and 
flowed as a group into his mouth 
and nostrils. 

"Ahchool" sneezed Brown, vio- 

95 



lently evicting half the Rell. 

They re-entered a bit more cau- 
tiously in order not to irritate the 
sensitive membrane again, 

"Dammit," said Brown, "don't 
tell me I've caught a cold clear out 
here on Mars. Hope I didn't pick 
up any Martian germs." 

But he needn't have worried. By 
the time he reached Earth he was 
far less germ-ridden, even if con- 
siderably more itchy on the ex- 
terior, than when he'd left. The 
Rell were good at self defense and a 
surprising number of mindless but 
voracious creatures in Brown's in- 
terior had been eliminated. 

Brown dreaded having to give 



the news he carried but he needn't 
have. He was a conquering hero. 

So much fuss was made over the 
first flight to Mars that Congress 
promptly voted twice the appro- 
priation for the second ship that 
the Air Force had requested, despite 
strong opposition from the Navy 
and headlines which read: 

NO LIFE ON MARS 

Actually, as it happened, the 
headlines were one hundred per- 
cent correct, but they neglected to 
mention, chiefly because the head- 
line writers didn't know it, that 
there were now two races of in- 
telligent life on Earth. • • • 



STANLEY GLEIT 

(Continued from page 13) 
civil engineering. 

At five he started the model 
building which he still works at 
quite assiduously. At eleven he be- 
gan reading everything he could 
lay his hands on. Then came sports. 
Today, model building, reading 
and various sports are his main 
hobbies. 

Stanley feels that he hasn't had 
enough experience to decide what 
his specialty will be in the engineer- 
ing field, but he hopes to be able 
to get that degree before he's in- 
ducted into the Armed Services. 

THE FUTURE in It's Really 
Sirius, is Earth that has been in 
stasis for one hundred years. Russia 
and the United States are still hav- 
ing a cold war, the United Nations 
is still the hope of small nations 
and the debating ground for the 
large ones. The United States has 
launched a space satellite, and the 

m 



other side of the moon has been 
explored. Venus and Mars have 
been reached, but society is so 
lethargic that only a few from the 
crowded Indo-Asian countries have 
migrated to the planets. The cities 
are empty of all but industry; there 
are overhead monorails, robot ser- 
vants, brief, utilitarian clothing, 
visiphones, television and every 
sort of conceivable gadget and gim- 
mick to make life easy. Life is dull, 
monotonous, calm and boring, but 
the drive for security is so great 
that adventure, excitement, tension 
are avoided like the plague. The 
story tells of the efforts of a de- 
clining race of Sirians to shock 
the Earth out of stasis — and to uni- 
fy it and to teach it to trade and 
share discoveries and so ready it 
for the fight against the menace 
from another galaxy. 

It's Really Sirius will appear in 
IF next spring. 



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in ROUND HOLES 

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201 N. WelU, Dept. 200, Chicago 6, Illinois 



Illustrated by Leo Summers 



VACATION 

It was an island paradise, where you could fish and pick 

coconuts and be as lazy as you please. 

For three glorious days just the two of you could be alone 

and remember . . . three days out of a lifetime. 

BY JOHN CHRISTOPHER 



THE BIRD was singing. He 
raised himself on one elbow to 
look for it, but there was only the 
luxuriant green of the trees, press- 
ing down to the sand. The island 
was a single hill, and further back, 
high up on the slope, the vegeta- 
tion thinned. He could see the hut, 
surrounded by garden neatness. 
They had preferred to sleep on the 
sand. Everyone did. 

Jenny said: "You listening, too? 
It's happy, all right. You can tell 
that." 

He rolled over and smiled at her. 
"As long as it doesn't come right 
up and sneer at us, let it be happy." 

"I mean it, though. I never 
heard it sing like that before." 

"The air,'" he said. "The sun- 
shine, sound of a breeze. So many 



little differences. It?s the same 
bird." 

"It's free", she said. "It's home," 

"It doesn't know that." 

They lay quietly for a few mo- 
ments. As it had done last night, 
just before he drifted off into sleep, 
his hand went out to the soft sand, 
the fingers pushing down into its 
fineness. It was difficult to tell how 
far the action was a conscious one. 
Thinking of that, he sat up. The 
sun was well clear of the line where 
the two different blues met, the 
horizon. That was the kind of thing 
to remember: the open glory of 
sunrise. He touched Jenny's shoul- 
der. 

"Swim, honey?" 

Her face was buried in the sand. 
"You go on. Be right with you." 



98 



The fragile golden crust broke 
under his feet. He walked faster, 
and then began running. It was 
perhaps a hundred yards to the 
water's edge. When the first lap- 
ping wavelets were round his feet 
he began singing, a bawling sense- 
less song but it filled the warm and 
quiet air with the sound of his 
voice. The ground dipped quite 
sharply after if entered the water, 
and he flung himself forward and 
went under. Water, all round him. 



The consciousness of pleasure was 
like being a boy again: now, in 
this instant, you are smoking a 
cigarette, kissing Abigail Summers 
— any one of a dozen things long 
thought of, now realized. Water, 
water. He came splashing to the 
surface. Jenny was still lying, face 
down, on the sand. He called to 
her, again and again, until she 
sat up. She got to her feet and be- 
gan to walk towards the water, but 
slowly, as though reluctantly. 




m 



That morning he worked on the 
garden round the hut. Two hours' 
work a day were requested of the 
men, although, of course, there was 
no way of enforcing the request. 
He did four hours in the morning, 
and carried on again in the after- 
noon. He wondered how many 
others had set out to do the full six 
hours' work on the first day, with 
the intention of having the re- 
mainder of the time free. He rested 
in the middle of the afternoon, 
when the sun got really hot, but 
he went back to the garden again 
afterwards. He wondered how 
many had done that, too. The gar- 
den was in very good shape. 

Jenny, meanwhile, had been busy 
in the hut. It had three rooms and 
an annex of an uncompleted 
fourth. Someone, struggling per- 
haps with his hazy memories of car- 
pentry, had found three days not 
quite long enough to achieve his 
projected improvement. They 
should have let him stay on, he 
thought. But if it had been he and 
Jenny who had been next on the 
list, waiting? 

On the tea table she had pre- 
pared the processed foods that had 
been familiar and monotonous and 
detestable for over fifteen years. 
He shook his head. 

"Throw that stuff out. We've got 
plenty fruit here." 

"No." She motioned him to sit 
down. "Unless we want to spend 
the rest of the time doubled up. 
Our stomachs aren't used to it. It's 
this they're used to." 

She helped him to slices of soy- 
tein, and he made no protest. She 
was right. The rest of the time . . . 
he wished she hadn't put it like 
that. The sun was getting low. 

100 



When it dipped down to touch the 
sea, a third of the time would be 
gone, two days remaining. He had 
a swift ripple of anger that it 
should be only three days; just 
four, even, would make all the dif- 
ference. Just four. 

"God Almighty," he said, "it's 
not long. Three days." 

She looked at him. "No." 

"After sixteen years." 

She said: "Some will have 
twenty five, if they live that long. 
And the boys . . ." 

The anger had gone now. He 
felt very tired; frOm the unaccus- 
tomed work, perhaps. 

"I know." 

"We're lucky. It might have been 
the typhoon season." 

"I'd like a typhoon. A little one." 



THE FOLLOWING morning, 
after a swim, he went back to 
work in the garden. Someone, 
quite recently, had begun an ex- 
tension along the western slope. 
Already, in what was clearly a 
short time, the island's natural 
plant life had begun to counter- 
attack; in another week or so the 
whole of the new ground would 
have been lost again. He set to the 
job of clearing it with enthusiasm, 
and also with relief at having some- 
thing to do where time's passing 
would not be so much marked. 

After a couple of hours, he won- 
dered where Jenny was. He real- 
ized that for some time he had 
not seen her moving about the 
hut. He looked down to the beach, 
to see if she had gone for a swim, 
but the long stretch of sand and 
the blue ocean were both unbroken. 
He called her two or three times, 

JOHN CHRISTOPHER 



and got no reply. Then he put 
down his forkj and went to look 
for her. 

He came upon her unexpectedly, 
in a clearing on the other side of 
the hill. She did not hear his ap- 
proach, and he was able to watch 
her, and listen to her. She was talk- 
ing; to herself, he thought at first. 
Then he noticed the bird they had 
brought, on a branch quite close 
to her head. That surprised him— 
that it should stay there while she 
talked, although the whole island 
was open to it. And yet, caged for 
how many generations, it might 
even have a need of human speech. 
He looked at the bird: the last of 
a species that gradually had ceased 
to breed in captivity, and so had 
been freed. A sterile liberty. 

Jenny was talking to it in an 
ordinary tone of voice. 

". . . you won't be alone. There'll 
always be people here on the is- 
land. Here for three days, and then 
gone. They'll take it different ways, 
I guess. But whatever way they 
take it, it will only be three days. 
How long does a bird live — your 
kind of bird? I'd like to think you'll 
still be here when the boys come. 
I doubt it, though." 

The bird stretched its wings, and 
she stopped speaking to look at it. 
It flapped to another branch, no 
more than a couple of feet away, 
and stayed there. From peg to peg, 
even though the cage was gone. 

"We saved your kind," Jenny 
said, "and then we kept you, and 
you're the last. There was talk of 
putting a pair here a good few 
years ago, but there were so few of 
you and they thought you could be 
cared for better in the City. They 
were wrong, but it's too late now. 

VACATION 



So you came in the boat with us. 
I'd rather it had been some other 
couple. We've set you free, and 
tomorrow night we go back. I'd 
rather it had been someone else." 

She looked away, towards the 
branches which screened him, and 
he instinctively lowered his head. 
But she had not seen him. 

She said to the bird: "What's 
it like? What's it like, being alive? 
I'm not alive. How can you be 
alive, for three days, knowing that 
the end's there? I don't think Fran 
and I will be back. We might just 
make it, but I don't think so." 

She got up. He saw her face : sad 
and angry and despairing, as he 
had never seen it before, as she 
had never let him see it. She put 
her hand on the branch, and shook 
it more and more vigorously until 
the bird took flight. 

"Go on!", she cried. "Live! En- 
joy yourself!" 

The bird circled, dark against 
the hazy blue sky. 

"Live till the boys come," she 
said softly. 

He did not return to the garden. 
All that afternoon he lay in sight of 
the sea, at first in the sun's glare 
and then in the small patch of 
shade thrown on the sand by an 
outlying palm. The small waves 
rolled in and cast down their nets 
of lace and were gone; a thousand 
of them, or a hundred thousand, 
or a million. Jenny came and rested 
beside him for a time. They did not 
speak to each other. Out of the cor- 
ner of an eye he could see her arm, 
and if he listened carefully he could 
pick her breathing out from the 
soft unending suspiration of the 
waves; but that was all. When he 

101 



was aware of her getting up and 
heard her feet scuffing the sand as 
she went away, he was glad. There 
was all the rest of the island. Learn- 
ing to live, one was alone — learn- 
ing to live after so long. It did not 
matter whether it was worth it or 
not. 

After so many years of unre- 
mitting usefulness it was easier to 
do what one was supposed to do, 
even here on the island. And it 
must be this that was intended, 
even though he could not think 
why it should be. 

The silence that had come be- 
tween them was barely broken by 
the meal they had together; they 
exchanged the brief necessary 
words, with no communion either 
of affection or resentment. She got 
up from the table before he did 
and later, standing in front of the 
hut, he saw her down on the beach. 
She was walking by the very edge 
of the sea, occasionally letting the 
water break round her ankles. She 
walked slowly, preoccupied. The 
casualness of his own vision star- 
tled him; it was as though this 
were an everyday thing, as though 
the world had slipped from wonder 
into the commonplace, the blessed 
commonplace. That much was 
gained; to that extent he had be- 
gun to be alive. For Jenny he felt 
a rising of love: let it be the same 
for her, even for so short a time. 

He stayed up very late, watch- 
ing the half moon that scored the 
sea with light. Jenny came back, 
and said "Good night" and went 
on into the hut. He followed her 
there at last. It was natural, after 
all, to sleep under a roof. 

192 



THEY REMAINED apart all 
the third day. He found the 
raft that someone had made, and 
the spears, and he went fishing. 
For a moment, as the raft drifted 
out from the shore, he felt afraid 
because he had provided no means 
of bringing it back. Then he real- 
ized that the shore was, of course, 
well within swimming distance. 
Thinking of it, he knew, too, that 
there had been guilt along with the 
fear, a guilt of desertion. Not for 
Jenny, or the boys, but for the City. 
He thought sadly: no, it isn't long 
enough. You don't get away as 
easy as that. He tried to concen- 
trate on fishing, but he had no skill 
at it and caught nothing. In time 
another current pulled the raft in 
to shore. He pulled it high up, 
under the trees. Someone else 
might want it. 

He spent the afternoon wander- 
ing through the brush that covered 
the base of the island's hill. He re- 
membered being told once — it 
might be five years ago — that there 
were li2ards, and it began to seem 
important that he should see one, 
if possible touch it, hold that cool 
throbbing smallness within his 
hands. 

He only gave up hunting at the 
approach of sunset. Jenny was sit- 
ting outside the hut, on one of 
the roughly made wooden chairs. 
There was a second chair beside 
her, and he sat down in it. 

"I've been hunting lizards," he 
said. "Didn't find any. Did you see 
any?" 

She shook her head. 

"I remember, it was Leon Cor- 
ter told me he saw lizards. I sup- 
pose they might have died out." 

"Why should they?" 

JOHN CHRISTOPHER 



The silence between them that 
followed was different now. After 
a while he brqke it. 

"It should have been better. I 
should have made it better. I'm 
sorry, honey." 

"No one's fault." 

They watched the sun slide over 
the edge of the world. 

Jenny said : "When we put that 
request in — to let the boys come in 
place of us — I hoped they would 
turn it down." She marvelled at 
herself. "I didn't really want them 
to have it — our own kids." 

"Neither did I. But it doesn't 
matter. They couldn't have granted 
it." 

"Why two?", she said angrily. 
"Why break up a family that way?" 

"Why three days? You know 
how it is: there's only enough 
power to spare for the boat, and 
the boat won't take more than 
two." 

"Then why anything?" 

He said slowly: "I've been won- 
dering about that." 

"What does it amount to? Three 
days of misery, three days of learn- 
ing to look at things again, learn- 
ing to be human . . . three days, 
and then . . . You don't think 
they're going to be pleasant, do 
you — the next few weeks?" 

"Weeks? Months, years. Les& 
than a month before we came I 
woke up crying, from dreaming 
about home, from remembering." 
He nodded towards the rosy sun- 
less horizon. "We're only half-see- 
ing things now. But we'll see that 
sunset as long as we live." 

She asked: "Has anyone refused 
it, ever?" 

He shook his head. "Not that 
I've heard." ' 

VACATION 



"I wish we'd refused it. Oh, 
Fran, why on . . . Why do they 
do it? why not just let us stay in 
the City, doing what we have to 
do? why this? Why force us to 
remember? It would have been 
easy enough. Not enough power, 
even for the boat. Why didn't they 
do that?" 

The light was being drawn from 
the sky. Other evenings it had 
seemed fantastically slow after 
what they had become used to; 
now the day fled into dusk. 

He said: "How long before the 
boys' turn? Ten years — twelve?" 

"About that." 

"They could put a stop to it after 
the last of the old ones. Any ex- 
cuse — as you said, not enough 
power. There's never enough pow- 
er. They could say: what you've 
never known you don't miss." 

"It wouldn't be fair." 

"What's the latest figure — a 
thousand years? Near enough. A 
thousand years of the City. Better 
to forget things altogether." 

"No!" she said quickly. There 
was a pause of silence between 
them, a silence of two people and 
one bird on an island. "I guess they 
know what they're doing. They 
could have warned us, though." 

"No, they couldn't. We wouldn't 
have believed them, would we?" 

She said softly: "But such 
pain . . ." 

"Pain makes you remember," he 
said. "We've got to remember." 

He took her arm. "It's due. Bet- 
ter be getting ready, old girl." 



THE NEW people were both 
women, friends and spinsters; 
(Continued on page 117) 



103 




Illustrated by Ed Emsh 

THE VERY SECRET AGENT 

Poor Riuku! ... Not being a member of the human race, how 
was he supposed to understand what goes on in a woman's 
mind when the male of the same species didn't even know? 

BY MARI WOLF 

104 



IN THEIR SHIP just beyond the 
orbit of Mars the two aliens sat 
looking at each other. 

"No," Riuku said. "I haven't 
had any luck. And I can tell you 
right now that I'm not going to 
have any, and no one else is going 
to have any either. The Earthmen 
are too well shielded." 

"You contacted the factory?" 
Nagor asked. 

"Easily. It's the right one. The 
parking lot attendant knows there's 
a new weapon being produced in 
there. The waitress at the Jumbo 
Burger Grill across the street knows 
it. Everybody I reached knows it. 
But not one knows anything about 
what it is." 

Nagor looked out through the 
ports of the spaceship, which didn't 
in the least resemble an Earth 
spaceship, any more than what 
Nagor considered sight resembled 
the corresponding Earth sense per- 
ception. He frowned. 

"What about the research scien- 
tists? We know who some of them 
are. The supervisors? The tech- 
nicians?" 

"No," Riuku said flatly. "They're 
shielded. Perfectly I can't make 
contact with a single mind down 
there that has the faintest inkling 
of what's going on. We never 
should have let them develop the 
shield." 

"Have you tried contacting 
everyone? What about the work- 
ers?" 

"Shielded. All ten thousand of 
them. Of course I haven't checked 
all of them yet, but — " 

"Do it," Nagor said grimly. 
"We've got to find out what that 
weapon is. Or else get out of this 
solar system." 



Riuku sighed. "I'll try," he said. 



SOMEONE put another dollar 
in the juke box, and the there- 
mins started in on Mare Indrium 
Mary for the tenth time since Pete 
Ganley had come into the bar. "Aw 
shut up," he said, wishing there was 
some way to turn them oflF. Twelve- 
ten. Alice got off work at Houston's 
at twelve. She ought to be here by 
now. She would be, if it weren't 
Thursday. Shield boosting night for 
her. 

Why, he asked himself irritably, 
couldn't those scientists figure out 
some way to keep the shields up 
longer than a week? Or else why 
didn't they have boosting night the 
same for all departments? He had 
to stay late every Friday and Alice 
every Thursday, and all the time 
there was Susan at home ready to 
jump him if he wasn't in at a rea- 
sonable time. . . 

"Surprised, Pete?" Alice Hen- 
dricks said at his elbow. 

He swung about, grinned at her. 
"Am I? You said it. And here I was 
about to go. I never thought you'd 
make it before one." His grin faded 
a little. "How'd you do it? Sweet- 
talk one of the guards into letting 
you in at the head of the line?" 

She shook her bandanaed head, 
slid onto the stool beside him and 
crossed her knees — a not very con- 
vincing sign of femininity in a 
woman wearing baggy denim cov- 
eralls. "Aren't you going to buy me 
a drink, honey?" 

"Oh, sure." He glanced over at 
the bartender. "Another beer. No, 
make it two." He pulled the five 
dollars out of his pocket, shoved it 
across the bar, and looked back at 



105 



Alice, more closely this time. The 
ID badge, pinned to her hip. The 
badge, with her name, number, de- 
partment, and picture- — and the lit- 
tle meter that measured the 
strength of her Mind Shield. 

The dial should have pointed to 
full charge. It didn't. It registered 
about seventy per cent loss. 

Alice followed his gaze. She gig- 
gled. "It was easy," she said. "The 
guards don't do more than glance 
at us, you know. And everyone 
who's supposed to go through 
Shielding on Thursday has the de- 
partment number stamped on a 
yellow background. So all I did was 
make a red background, like yours, 
and slip it on in the restroom at 
Clean-up time." 

"But Alice. . ." Pete Ganley 
swallowed his beer and signaled for 
another. "This is serious. You've 
got to keep the shields up. The 
enemy is everywhere. Why, right 
now, one could be probing you." 

"So what? The dial isn't down 
to Danger yet. And tomorrow I'll 
just put the red tag back on over 
the yellow one and go through 
Shielding in the same line with 
you. They won't notice." She gig- 
gled again. "I thought it was smart, 
Petey. You oughta think so too. 
You know why I did it, don't you?" 

Her round, smooth face looked 
up at him, wide-eyed and full- 
lipped. She had no worry wrinkles 
like Susan's, no mouth pulled down 
at the comers like Susan's, and un- 
der that shapeless coverall. . . 

"Sure, baby, I'm glad you did 
it," Pete Ganley said huskily. 

Riuku was glad too, the next 
afternoon when the swing shift 
started pouring through the gates. 

It was easy, once he'd found her. 

106 



He had tested hundreds, all 
shielded, some almost accessible to 
him, but none vulnerable enough. 
Then this one came. The shield was 
so far down that contact was al- 
most easy. Painful, tiring, but not 
really difficult. He could feel her 
momentary sense of alarm, of 
nausea, and then he was through, 
integrated with her, his thoughts at 
home with her thoughts. 

He rested, inside her mind. 

"Oh, hi, Joan. No, I'm all right. 
Just a little dizzy for a moment. A 
hangover? Of course not. Not on a 
Friday." 

Riuku listened to her half of the 
conversation. Stupid Earthman. If 
only she'd start thinking about the 
job. Or if only his contact with her 
were better. If he could use her 
sense perceptions, see through her 
eyes, hear through her ears, feel 
through her fingers, then every- 
thing would be easy. But he 
couldn't. All he could do was read 
her thoughts. Earth thoughts at 
that. . . ' 

. . . The time clock. Where's my 
card? Oh, here it is. Only 3:57. 
Why did I have to hurry so? I had 
lots of time. . . 

"Why, Mary, how nice you look 
today. That's a new hairdo, isn't it? 
A permanent? Yeah, what kind?" 
. . . What a microbe! Looks like 
pink straw, her hair does, and of 
course she thinks it's beautiful. . . 
"I'd better get down to my station. 
Old Liverlips will be ranting again. 
You oughta be glad you have Eddie 
for a lead man. Eddie's cute. So's 
Dave, over in 77. But Liverlips, 
ugh. . ." . 

She was walking down the aisle 
to her station now. A procession of 
names : Maisie, and Edith, and that 

MARI WOLF 



fat slob Natalie, and if Jean An- 
drews comes around tonight flash- 
ing that diamond in my face again, 
I'll— I'll kill her. . . 

"Oh hello, Clinton. What do you 
mean, late? The whistle just blew. 
Of course I'm ready to go to 
work." Liverlips, that's what you 
are. And still in that same blue 
shirt. What a wife you must have. 
Probably as sloppy as you are. . . 

Good, Riuku thought. Now she'll 
be working. Now he'd find out 
whatever it was she was doing. Not 
that it would be important, of 
course, but let him learn what her 
job was, and what those other 
girls' jobs were, and in a little while 
he'd have all the data he needed. 
Maybe even before the shift ended 
tonight, before she went through 
the Shielding boost. 

He shivered a little, thinking of 
the boost. He'd survive it, of course. 
He'd be too well integrated with 
her by then. But it was nothing to 
look forward to. 

Still, he needn't worry about it. 
He had the whole shift to find out 
what the weapon was. The whole 
shift, here inside Alice's mind, in- 
side the most closely guarded fac- 
tory on or under or above the sur- 
face of the Earth. He settled down 
and waited, expectantly. 

Alice Hendricks turned her back 
on the lead man and looked dowii 
the work table to her place. The 
other girls were there already. Lois 
and Marge and Coralie, the other 
three members of the Plug table, 
Line. 73. 

"Hey, how'd you make out?" 
Marge said. She glanced around to 
make sure none of the lead men or 
timekeepers were close enough to 
overhear her, then went on. "Did 

THE VERY SECRET AGENT 



you get away with it?" ■ ■ 

"Sure," Alice said. "And you 
should of seen Pete's face when I 
walked in." 

She took the soldering iron out 
of her locker, plugged it in, and 
reached out for the pan of 731 
wires. "You know, it's funny. 
Pete's not so good looking, and he's 
sort of a careless dresser and all 
that, but oh, what he does to me." 
She filled the 731 plug with solder . 
and reached for the white, black, 
red wire. 

"You'd better watch out," Lois 
said. "Or Susan's going to be doing 
something to you." 

"Oh, her." Alice touched the tip 
of the iron to the solder filled pin, 
worked the wire down into posi- 
tion. "What can she do? Pete 
doesn't give a damn about her." 

"He's still living with her, isn't 
he?" Lois said. 

Alice shrugged. . . What a mealy- 
mouthed little snip Lois could be, 
sometimes. You'd think to hear her 
that she was better than any of 
them, and luckier too, with her Joe 
and the kids. What a laugh! Joe 
was probably the only guy who'd 
ever looked at her, and she'd 
hooked him right out of school, 
and now with three kids in five 
years and her working nights. . . 

Alice finished soldering the first 
row of wires in the plug and started 
in on the second. So old Liverlips 
thought she wasted time, did he? 
Well, she'd show him. She'd get out 
her sixteen plugs tonight. 

"Junior kept me up all night last 
night," Lois said; "He's cutting a 
tooth." 

"Yeah," Coralie said. "It's pretty 
rough at that age. I remember right 
after Mike was born. . ." 

107 



Don't they ever think of anything 
but their kids? Alice thought. She 
stopped listening to them. She 
heard Pete's voice again, husky and 
sending little chills all through her, 
and his face came between her and 
the plug and the white green wire 
she was soldering. His face, with 
those blue eyes that went right 
through a girl and that little scar 
that quirked up the corner of his 
mouth. . . 

"Oh oh," Alice said suddenly. 
"I've got solder on the outside of 
the pin." She looked around for the 
alcohol. 

Riuku probed. Her thoughts 
were easy enough to read, but just 
try to translate them into anything 
useful. . . He probed deeper. The 
plugs she was soldering. He could 
get a good picture of them, of the 
wires, of the harness lacing that 
Coralie was doing. But it meant 
nothing. They could be making 
anything. Radios, monitor units, 
sound equipment. 

Only they weren't. They were 
making a weapon, and this bit of 
electronic equipment was part of 
that weapon. What part? What did 
the 731 plug do? 

Alice Hendricks didn't know. 
Alice Hendricks didn't care. 

The first break. Ten minutes 
away from work. Alice was walking 
back along the aisle that separated 
Assembly from the men's Machine 
Shop. A chance, perhaps. She was 
looking at the machines, or rather 
past them, at the men. 

"Hello, Tommy. How's the love 
life?" He's not bad at all. Real 
cute. Though not like Pete, oh no. 

The machines. Riuku prodded at 
her thoughts, wishing he could in- 
fluence them, wishing that just for 

108 



a moment he could see, hear, feel, 
think as she would never think. 

The machines were — machines. 
That big funny one where Ned 
works, and Tommy's spot welder, 
and over in the corner where the 
superintendent is — he's a snappy 
dresser, tie and everything. 

The corner. Restricted area. 
Can't go over. High voltage or 
something. . . 

Her thoughts slid away from the 
restricted area. Should she go out 
for lunch or eat off the sandwich 
machine? And Riuku curled inside 
her mind and cursed her with his 
rapidly growing Earthwoman's vo- 
cabulary. 

At the end of the shift he had 
learned nothing. Nothing about 
the weapon, that is. He had found 
out a good deal about the sex life 
of Genus Homo — information that 
made him even more glad than be- 
fore that his was a one-sexed race. 



WITH WORK over and tools 
put away and Alice in the 
restroom gleefully thinking about 
the red Friday night tag she was 
slipping onto her ID badge, he was 
as far from success as ever. For a 
moment he considered leaving her, 
looking for another subject. But 
he'd probably not be able to find 
one. No, the only thing to do was 
stay with her, curl deep in her 
mind and go through the Shielding 
boost, and later on. . . 

The line. Alice's nervousness. . . 
Oh, oh, there's that guy with the 
meter — the one from maintenance. 
What's he want? 

"Whaddya mean, my shield's 
low? How could it be?" . . .// he 
checks the tag I'll be fired for sure. 

AAARI WOLF 



It's a lot oj nonsense anyway.- The 
enemy is everywhere, they keep 
telling us. Whoever saw one of 
them? "No, honest, I didn't notice 
anything. Can I help it if. . . It's 
okay, huh? It'll pass. . ." 

Down to fifteen per cent, the guy 
said. Well, that's safe, I guess. 
Whew. 

"Oh, hello, Paula. Whatcha talk- 
ing about, what am I doing here to- 
night? Shut up. . ." 

And then, in the midst of her 
thoughts, the pain, driving deep 
into Riuku, twisting at him, 
wrenching at him, until there was 
no consciousness of anything at all. 

He struggled back. He was con- 
fused, and there was blankness 
around him, and for a moment he 
thought he'd lost contact alto- 
gether. Then he came into focus 
again. Alice's thoughts were clearer 
than ever suddenly. He could feel 
her emotions; they were a part of 
him now. He smiled. The Shield- 
ing boost had helped him. Integra- 
tion — much more complete inte- 
gration than he had ever known 
before. 

"But Pete, honey," Alice said. 
"What did you come over to the 
gate for? You shouldn't of done 
it." 

"Why not? I wanted to see you." 

"What if one of Susan's pals 
sees us?" 

"So what? I'm getting tired of 
checking in every night, like a baby. 
Besides, one of her pals did see us, 
last night, at the bar." 

Fear. What'll she do? Susan's a 
hellcat. I know she is. But maybe 
Pete'll get really sick and tired of 
her. He looks it. He looks mad. I'd 
sure hate to have him mad at me. . . 

"Let's go for a spin, baby. Out in 

THE VERY SECRET AGENT 



the suburbs somewhere. How about 
it?" 

"Well— why sure, Pete. . ." 

Sitting beside him in the copter. 
All alone up here. Real romantic, 
like something on the video. But I 
shouldn't with him married, and 
all that. It's not right. But it's dif- 
ferent, with Susan such a mean 
thing. Poor Petey. . . 

Riuku prodded. He found it so 
much easier since the Shielding 
boost. If only these Earthmen were 
more telepathic, so that they could 
be controlled directly. Still, perhaps 
with this new integration he could 
accomplish the same results. He 
prodded again. 

"Pete," Alice said suddenly. 
"What are we working on, any- 
way?" 

"What do you mean, working 
on?" He frowned at her. 

"At the plant. All I ever do is 
sit there soldering plugs, and no one 
ever tells me what for." 

"Course not. You're not sup- 
posed to talk about any part of the 
job except your own. You know 
that. The slip of a lip — " 

"Can cost Earth a ship. I know. 
Quit spouting poster talk at me, 
Pete Ganley. The enemy isn't even 
human. And there aren't any 
around here." 

Pete looked over at her. She was 
pouting, the upper lip drawn un- 
der the lower. Someone must have 
told her that was cute. Well, so 
what — it was cute. 

"What makes you think I know 
anything more than you do?" he 
said. 

"Well, gee." She looked up at 
him, so near to her in the moon- 
light that she wondered why she 
wanted to talk about the plant any- 

109 



way. "You're in Final Assembly, 
aren't you? You check the whatsits 
before they go out." 

"Sure," he said. No harm in tell- 
ing her. No spies now, not in this 
kind of war. Besides, she was too 
dumb to know anything. 

"It's a simple enough gadget," 
Pete Ganley said. "A new type of 
force field weapon that the enemy 
can't spot until it hits them. They 
don't even know there's an Earth 
ship within a million miles, until 
Bingo! . . ." 

She drank it in, and in her mind 
Riuku did too. Wonderful integra- 
tion, wonderful. Partial thought 
control. And now, he'd learn the 
secret. . . 

"You really want to know how 
it works?" Pete Ganley said. When 
she nodded he couldn't help grin- 
ning. "Well, it's analogous to the 
field set up by animal neurones, in 
a way. You've just got to damp that 
field, and not only damp it but blot 
it out, so that the frequency shows 
nothing at all there, and then — 
well, that's where those Corcoran 
assemblies you're soldering on come 
in. You produce the field. . ." 

Alice Hendricks listened. For 
some reason she wanted to listen. 
She was really curious about the 
field. But, gee, how did he expect 
her to understand all that stufT? He 
sounded like her algebra teacher, 
or was it chemistry. Lord, how 
she'd hated school. Maybe she 
shouldn't of quit. 

. . . Corcoran fields. E and IR 
and nine-space something or other. 
She'd never seen Pete like this be- 
fore. He looked real different. Sort 
of like a professor, or something. 
tie must be real smart. And so — 
well, not good-looking especially 

no 



but, well, appealing. Real SA, he 
had. . . 

"So that's how it works," Pete 
Ganley said. "Quite a weapon, 
against them. It wouldn't work on 
a human being, of course." She was 
staring at him dreamy-eyed. He 
laughed. "Silly, I bet you haven't 
understood a word I said." 

"I have too." 

"Liar." He locked the automatic 
pilot on the copter and held out 
his arms. "Come here, you." 

"Oh, Petey. . ." 

Who cared about the weapon? 
He was right, even if she wouldn't 
admit it. She hadn't even listened, 
hardly. She hadn't understood. 

And neither had Riuku. 

Riuku waited until she'd fallen 
soundly asleep that night before he 
tried contacting Nagor. He'd 
learned nothing useful. He'd 
picked up nothing in her mind ex- 
cept more thoughts of Pete, and 
gee, maybe someday they'd get 
married, if he only had guts enough 
to tell Susan where to get off. . . 

But she was asleep at last. Riuku 
was free enough of her thoughts 
to break contact, partially of 
course, since if he broke it com- 
pletely he wouldn't be able to get 
back through the Shielding. It was 
hard enough to reach out through 
it. He sent a painful probing feeler 
out into space, to the spot where 
Nagor and the others waited for his 
report. 

"Nagor. . ." 

"Riuku? Is that you?" 

"Yes. I've got a contact. A girl. 
But I haven't learned anything yet 
that can help us." 

"Louder, Riuku, I can hardly 
hear you. . ." 

MARl WOLF 



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Alice Hendricks stirred in her 
sleep. The dream images slipped 
through her subconscious, almost 
waking her, beating against Riuku. 

Pete, baby, you shouldn't be like 
that. . . 

Riuku cursed the bisexual species 
in their own language. 

"Riuku!" Nagor's call was harsh, 
urgent. "You've got to find out. We 
haven't much time. We lost three 
more ships today, and there wasn't 
a sign of danger. No Earthman 
nearby, no force fields, nothing. 
You've got to find out why." 
Those ships just disappeared. 

Riuku forced his way up through 
the erotic dreams of Alice Hen- 
dricks. "I know a little," he said. 
"They damp their thought waves 
somehow, and keep us from spot- 
ting the Corcoran field." 

"Corcoran field? What's that?" 

"I don't know." Alice's thoughts 
washed over him, pulling him back 
into complete integration, away 
from Nagor, into a medley of 
heroic Petes with gleaming eyes and 
clutching hands and good little 
Alices pushing them away — ^for the 
moment. 

"But surely you can find out 
through the girl," Nagor insisted 
from far away, almost out of phase 
altogether. 

"No, Pete!" Alice Hendricks said 
aloud. 

"Riuku, you're the only one of us 
with any possible sort of contact. 
You've got to find out, if we're to 
stay here at all." 

"Well," Alice Hendricks thought, 
"maybe. . ." 

Riuku cursed her again, in the 
lingua franca of a dozen systems. 
Nagor's voice faded. Riuku 
switched back to English. 

112 



SATURDAY. Into the plant at 
3:58. Jean's diamond again. . . 
Wish it would choke her; she's got 
a horsey enough face for it to. 
Where's old Liverlips? Don't see 
him around. Might as well go to 
the restroom for a while. . . 

That's it, Riuku thought. Get 
her over past the machine shop, 
over by that Restricted Area. There 
must be something there we can 
go on. . . 

"Hello, Tommy," Alice Hen- 
dricks said. "How's the love life?" 

"It could be better if someone I 
know would, uh, cooperate. . ." 

She looked past him, toward the 
corner where the big panels were 
with all the dials and the meters 
and the chart that was almost like 
the kind they drew pictures of 
earthquakes on. What was it for, 
anyway? And why couldn't anyone 
go over to it except those longhairs? 
High voltage her foot. . . 

"What're you looking at, Alice?" 
Tommy said. 

"Oh, that." She pointed. "Won- 
der what it's for? It doesn't look 
like much of anything, really." 

"I wouldn't know. I've got some- 
thing better to look at." 

"Oh, you!" 

Compared to Pete, he didn't 
have anything, not anything at all. 

. . . Pete. Gee, he must of got 
home awful late last night. Wonder 
what Susan said to him. Why does 
he keep taking her lip, anyway? 

Riuku waited. He prodded. He 
understood the Restricted Area as 
she understood it — which was not 
at all. He found out some things 
about the 731 plugs — that a lot of 
them were real crummy ones the 
fool day shift girls had set up 
wrong, and besides she'd rather 

MARI WOLF 



solder on the 7l7's any day. He got 
her talking about the weapon 
again, and he found out what the 
other girls thought about it. . 

Nothing. 

Except where else could you get 
twelve-fifty an hour soldering? 

She was stretched out on the 
couch in the restroom lobby taking 
a short nap — on company time, old 
Liverlips being tied up with the 
new girls down at the other end of 
the line — when Riuku finally man- 
aged to call Nagor again. 

"Have you found out anything, 
Riuku?" 

"Not yet." 

Silence. Then: "We've lost an- 
other ship. Maybe you'd better turn 
her loose and come on back. It 
looks as if we'll have to run for it, 
after all." 

Defeat. The long, interstellar 
search for another race, a race less 
technologically advanced than this 
one, and all because of a stupid 
Earth female. 

"Not yet, Nagor," he said. "Her 
boy friend knows. I'll find out. I'll 
make her listen to him." 

"Well," Nagor said doubtfully. 
"All right. But hurry. We haven't 
much time at all." 

"I'll hurry," Riuku promised. 
"I'll be back with you tonight." 

That night after work Pete Gan- 
ley was waiting outside the gate 
again. Alice spotted his copter 
right away, even though he had 
the lights turned way down. 

"Gee, Pete, I didn't think. . ." 

"Get in. Quick." 

_"What'_s the matter?" She 
climbed in beside him. He didn't 
answer until the copter had lifted 
itself into the air, away from the 
factory landing lots and the bright 

THE VERY SECRET AGENT 



overhead lights and the home- 
bound workers. 

"It's Susan, who else," he said 
grimly. "She was really sounding 
oE today. She kept saying she had 
a lot of evidence and I'd better be 
careful. And, well, I sure didn't 
want you turning up at the bar to- 
night of all nights." 

He didn't sound like Pete. 

"Why?" Alice said. "Are you 
afraid she'll divorce you?" 

"Oh, Alice, you're as bad as — 
look, baby, don't you see? It would 
be awful for you. All the publicity, 
the things she'd call you, maybe 
even in the papers. . ." 

He was staring straight ahead, 
his hands locked about the controls. 
He was sort of — well, distant. Not 
her Petey any more. Someone else's 
Pete. Susan's Pete. . . 

"I think we should be more care- 
ful," he said. 

Riuku twisted his way through 
her thoughts, tried to push them 
down. . . Does he love me, he's got 
to love me, sure he does, he just 
doesn't want me to get hurt. . . 

And far away, almost completely 
out of phase, Nagor's call. "Riuku, 
another ship's gone. You'd better 
come back. Bring what you've 
learned so far and we can with- 
draw from the system and maybe 
piece it together. . .". 

"In a little while. Just a little 
while." Stop thinking about Susan, 
you biological schizo. Change the 
subject. You'll never get anything 
out of that man by having hys- 
terics. . . 

"I suppose," Alice cried bitterly, 
"you've been leading me on all the 
time. You don't love me. You'd 
rather have her!" 

"That's not so. Hell, baby. . ." 

113 



He's angry. He's not even going 
to kiss me. I'm just cutting my own 
throat when I act like that. . . 

"Okay, Pete. I'm sorry. I know 
it's tough on you. Let's have a 
drink, okay? Still got some in the 
glove compartment?" 

"Huh? Oh, sure." 

She poured two drinks, neat, and 
he swallowed his with one impa- 
tient gulp. She poured him another. 



RIUKU prodded. The drink 
made his job easier. Alice's 
thoughts calmed, swirled away 
from Susan and what am I going 
to do and why didn't I pick up 
with some single guy, anyway? A 
single guy, like Tommy maybe. 
Tommy and his spot welder, over 
there by the Restricted Area. The 
Restricted Area. . . 

"Pete." 

"Yeah, baby?" 

"How come they let so much 
voltage loose in the plant, so we 
can't even go over in the Re- 
stricted Area?" 

"Whatever made you think of 
that?" He laughed suddenly. He 
turned to her, still laughing. He 
was the old Pete again, she thought, 
with his face happy and his mouth 
quirked up at the corner. "Voltage 
loose ... oh, baby, baby. Don't you 
know what that is?" 

"No. What?" 

"That's the control panel for one 
of the weapons, silly. It's only a 
duplicate, actually — a monitor sta- 
tion. But it's tuned to the frequen- 
cies of all the ships in this sector 
and—" 

She listened. She wanted to lis- 
ten. She had to want to listen, now. 

"Nagor, I'm getting it," Riuku 

114 



called. "I'll bring it all back with' 
me. Just a minute and I'll have it." 
"How does it work, honey?" 
Alice Hendricks said. 

"You really want to know? Okay. 
Now the Corcoran field is gener- 
ated between the ships and areas 
like that one, only a lot more pow- 
erful, by—" 

"It's coming through now, 
Nagor." 

" — a very simple power source, 
once you get the basics of it. You — 
oh, oh!" He grabbed her arm. 
"Duck, Alice!" 

A spotlight flashed out of the 
darkness, turned on them, out- 
lined them. A siren whirred briefly, 
and then another copter pulled 
up beside them and a loudspeaker 
blared tinnily. 

"Okay, bud, pull down to the 
landing lane." 
The police. 

Police. Fear, all the way through 
Alice's thoughts, all the way 
through Riuku. Police. Earth law. 
That meant — it must mean he'd 
been discovered, that they had 
some other means of protection be- 
sides the Shielding. . . 

"Nagor! I've been discovered!" 
"Come away then, you fool!" 
He twisted, trying to pull free of 
Alice's fear, away from the integra- 
tion of their separate terrors. But 
he couldn't push her thoughts back 
from his. She was too frightened. 
He was too frightened. The bond 
held. 

"Oh, Pete, Pete, what did you 
do?" 

He didn't answer. He landed the 
copter, stepped out of it, walked 
back to the other copter that was 
just dropping down behind him. 
"But officer, what's the matter?" 

MAR! WOLF 



Alice Hendricks huddled down 
in the seat, already seeing tomor- 
raw's papers, and her picture, and 
she wasn't really photogenic, either 
. . . And then, from the other cop- 
ter, she heard the woman laugh. 

"Pete Ganley, you fall for any- 
thing, don't you?" 

"Susan!" 

"You didn't expect me to follow 
you, did you? Didn't it ever occur 
to you that detectives could put a 
bug in your copter? My, what we've 
been hearing!" 

"Yeah," the detective who was 
driving said. "And those pictures 
we took last night weren't bad 
either." 

"Susan, I can explain every- 
thing " 

"I'm sure you can, Pete. You al- 
ways try. But as for you — you lit- 
tle—" 

Alice ducked down away from 
her. Pictures. Oh God, what it 
would make her look like. Still, this 
hag with the pinched up face who 
couldn't hold a man with all the 
xosmetics in the drugstore to cam- 
ouflage her — she had her nerve, 
yelling like that. 

"Yeah, and I know a lot about 
you too!" Alice Hendricks cried. 

"Why, let me get my hands on 
you. . ." 

"Riuku!" 

Riuku prodded. Calm down, you 
fool". You're not gaining anything 
•this way. Calm dovvn, so I can. get 
out of here. . . 

Alice Hendricks stopped yelling 
abruptly. 

"That's better," Susan said. 
"Pete, your taste in women gets 
worse each time. I don't know why 
I always take you back." 

"I can explain everything." 

THE VERY SECRET AGENT 



■'Oh, Pete," Alice Hendricks 
whispered. "Petey, you're not — " 

"Sure he is," Susan Ganley said. 
"He's coming with me. The nice 
detectives will take you home, dear. 
But I don't think you'd better try 
anything with them — they're not 
your type. They're single." 

"Pete. . ." But he wouldn't meet 
Alice's eyes. And when Susan took 
his arm, he followed her. 

"How could you do it, Petey. . ." 
Numb whispers, numb thoughts, 
over and over, but no longer fright- 
ened, no longer binding on Riuku. 

Fools, he thought. Idiotic Earth- 
men. If it weren't for your ridicu- 
lous reproductive habits I'd have 
found out everything. As it is. . . 
"Nagor, I'm coming! I didn't get 
anything. This woman — " 

"Well, come on then. We're 
leaving. Right now. There'll be 
other systems." 

Petey, Petey, Petey. . . 

Contact thinned as he reached 
out away from her, toward Nagor, 
toward the ship. He fought his way 
out through the Shielding, away 
from her and her thoughts and 
every detestable thing about her. 
Break free, break free. . . 

"What's the matter, Riuku? Why 
don't you come? Have the police 
caught you?" 

The others were fleeing, getting 
farther away even as he listened to 
Nagor's call. Contact was hard to 
maintain now; he could feel com- 
munication fading. 

"Riuku, if you don't come 
now. . ." 

He fought, but Alice's thoughts 
were still with him; Alice's tears 
still kept bringing him back into 
full awareness of her. 

"Riuku!" 

115 



"I— I can't!" The useless secret of Earth's now 

The Shielding boost, that had in- unneeded weapon. Alice Hendricks 
tegrated him so completely with glancing past it, at the spot weld- 
Alice Hendricks, would never let ing machine, at Tommy, 
him go. "How's the love life?" 

"Oh, Petey, I've lost you. . ." "You really interested in finding 

And Nagor's sad farewell slipped out, Alice?" 

completely out of phase, leaving "Well — maybe — " 

him alone, with her. And Riuku gibbered unheard in 

The plant. The Restricted Area, her mind. . • • 



^iiiii)iiiiiiiiiiiinllil<illlllllllliiliiiiiliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittii>iiiiiiiiiiiiiiii)liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiuiilllliiiiiiiiiritliltiiiiiliiiiiiiillliiiiiitiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii(iiiiiiiiiiiii)iiiiiiiiiiiniillilliy 

I WORTH CITING I 

i THE WASTE of organic material when garbage is burned or | 

I dumped into the seas and rivers has long been a sore point with | 

I chemists. They insisted that a way should be found to convert | 

I garbage into topsoil and so feed valuable materials back to the | 

I land. I 

I Now, Bernard Haldane, member of the faculty at Wagner | 

I College on Staten Island, New York City, has demonstrated | 

I equipment that does the trick; and does it automatically and sim- | 

I ply and cheaply. The garbage is dumped into the topmost of a | 

I series of tanks, is ground up (tin cans and bottles included), in- I 

I noculated with bacteria, then mixed and aerated by being turned | 

I over. It then flows by gravity to lower tanks as the bacteria mul- | 

I tiply and digest it at ever increasing temperatures. In the lowest | 

I tank the heat is high enough to kill disease-causing bacteria. The | 

I loamy end-product, which is an excellent topsoil and smells like | 

I good earth after a rain, can be removed through a trap door in | 

I the lowest tank. The entire process completely does away with | 

i hand labor. I 

I Any big city — such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, etc. — | 

I could deal with its garbage in this new way for less than $1.50 a | 

I ton. In New York City it would mean an annual saving of | 

I $5,000,000. Equipment for incineration costs approximately I 

I $485,000, while digestion and conversion equipment for the same | 

I amount of garbage disposal would cost about one-half that | 

I amount. | 

I Our Citation this month goes to Mr. Haldane for solving not | 

I one but two economic problems of today's civilization: Econom- | 

I ical garbage disposal, which has always been a headache in con- | 

I gested areas all over America, and the return to the soil of valu- | 

I able organic materials which may help to lick the problem of soil I 

I erosion and enervation now going on. | 

?iniiiuMiMiiiiiuiiMiiniiiiiiuiiiiiiniiiiuiiMiiiuiiiiiNjiiiiiiiiiiiimniiiiiiuiMllliuuumiiiiiiiiiiuiiniiiiiniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiHiiniiiuiiiiiiiiitiinuiiiiiniiiiiiiiiiiii.^ 

116 MARI WOLF 



VACATION (Continued from page 103) 



they knew them slightly. There 
was the same nervousness, the 
same forced jokes. 

"How's the City?" 

"Still spreading. The coconuts 
ripe?" 

"Watch out for sharks." 

They were glad when the trans- 
fer had been made, when it was 
time to go. 

There was no moon yet, but all 
the stars, and the dim water lap- 
ping round them. 

She said, her voice sharp: "It's 
funny no one ever rebels, refuses 
to go back." 

He was attending to the controls. 
"We're hand-picked, remember? 
And what good.would.it do?" 



"No good." She turned away. 
"I've finished looking." 

He thrust the control forward. 

The jets began to hammer 
against the glassy sea; the boat 
shivered and lifted. 

The island had remained green 
only because it was poised mid-way 
between the two great continents. 
It was several seconds before they 
were high enough to see them — 
Africa and America, burning, burn- 
ing, and beyond them Europe and 
Asia and Australasia, all burning. 
A scarlet glow of death. 

Ahead of them lay the City, in 
the lip of Tycho's crater on the bar- 
ren sheltering Moon. » . . 



FOR EVERY MAN A REASON (Continued from page 29) 



"I just wanted to be alone to 
die." 

Now it was the enemy agent's 
turn to speak bitterly. "Then you 
planned it all along. You led our 
men on, pretending you were going 
to aid us while you were in our 
midst learning everything about us 
to destroy us. 

"You finally found the method, 
God knows where you diig up that 
fiendish idea of sulphuric gas, but 
you planned and watched. I'll never 
know how you were so lucky — and 
it was pure luck, but you did it. You 
destroyed our base." 

With a smile, "Yes, I was lucky, I 
had a chance to end my life in a 
final battle and victory. That's all 
a man can ask for." 



Aron was still smiling when the 
blast of the Intelligence man's gun 
blew his head off. 

As he left the station, all the 
agent could think of was one phrase 
he had heard many times jokingly; 
but now it became a grim accom- 
paniment for his footsteps. Though 
he didn't want to hear it, it kept 
whispering through his mind every 
few seconds. 

"Live fast, fight hard, die young 
—and have a radiation-rotted 
corpse." 

Two hours later the United Em- 
pire fleet landed on Kligor. They 
came to claim the sixty ships lying 
waiting — waiting — in the peaceful 
valley that was still tainted with the 
smell of chlorine. • • • 



FOR EVERY MAN A REASON 



117 




SCIENCE 



BRIEFS 



Chemical firms of the future may 
"employ" microbes as helpers. 
Laboratory research has shown 
that if the lakes in the hot desert 
could be contaminated with the 
right kind of sewage or "broth" 
and stocked with specially culti- 
vated sulphur producing bacteria 
the process of building up sulphur 
deposits could be speeded up to six 
times faster than it takes to do it 
naturally. With such a .system in 
full swing, large scale sulphur pro- 
duction would be an accomplished 
fact. 

The "weather makers" predicted 
for tomorrow's generations may 
need no more than common table 
salt to provide rain when necessary. 
Intensive studies have indicated 
that there is a strong possibility 
that natural salt particles in the air 
are the rain-making agents. Tests 
are now going on to determine 
whether clouds seeded with salt 
will actually produce precipitation. 

The relationship of light to life has 
long been known, but recent dis- 
coveries point to it as becoming the 
key to farm crop control. The cor- 
rect use and management of radi- 
ant energy in the interest of better 
crops and better market timing 
has already proved of considerable 

118 



worth. Electric lights and a home 
generator may soon be as important 
to the fanner of the future as the 
seeds and fertilizer. 

The Antarctic continent, where the 
edges haven't been completely 
mapped and the interior is un- 
known and unexplored, may be the 
"last frontier" for the pioneers of 
the next twenty years. At least one 
expedition is being planned for 
19.59 or 1960; and a bill to finance 
it has already been introduced to 
Congress. 



The automobile driver on the high- 
ways of tomorrow very likely will 
find that all cars are two-tone, and 
of only two colors — blue and yel- 
low. Studies by traffic and safety 
engineers have proved that the ac- 
cident rate could be greatly re- 
duced if this idea were to be 
adopted. These two colors are 
more visible against varying back- 
grounds than any others. The 
darker blue is good for daylight 
and fog conditions; and the yellow 
is the color most readily seen at 
night. 

Plastic pillows filled with helium 
and joined together to make a mile- 
high floating dome may "weather 
condition" communities of the fu- 
ture. Such a dome covering would 
provide year-round sub-tropical 
weather without rain or bugs. The 
sun's light and heat would pene- 
trate (with harmful rays filtered 
out), and rain pouring off the 
edges would be caught to provide 
a pure water supply for all pur- 
poses. 

SCIENCE BRIEFS 



Fishing with electricity may revolu- 
tionize the commercial fishing in- 
dustry. Scientists in Germany and 
Russia have shown that almost all 
types of food fish can be attracted 
by electric currents out in the open 
sea. American trawlers, equipped 
with electricity producing gadgets 
and, nets are now conducting trials 
to test and measure the catches 
against pre-electric fishing. 

Harvesting cattails may some day 
be a profitable business for farmers 
who own a piece of swamp land. 
Nearly a dozen by-products of this 
"weed" have been found in recent 
laboratory research. The root can 
be eaten "as is", or dried and 
ground into a flour for baking. The 
flour can also be fermented to pro- 
duce ethyl alcohol for anti-freeze, 
medicinal purposes, and as an in- 
dustrial solvent. The stem fibers 
when extracted are as useful as jute 
for making string, burlap, webbing, 
or for stuffing furniture. The seeds 
yield an oil very similar to linseed 
oil and equally as useful; and after 
the oils have been extracted the 
meal made from the seeds makes 
excellent cattle or chicken feed. 

Ten years from now, or earlier, elec- 
tricity will be commercially pro- 
duced from uranium at a cost that 
is less than that of the coal-fueled 



power now in use. The develop- 
ment of a new boiling reactor has 
proved that costs will be reduced 
to a total of 6.7 mills an hour in 
contrast with the 7.01 mills it now 
costs for coal powered electricity. 

Surgeons of the future may have 
robot helpers instead of the human 
team they now have when they op- 
erate. A new type of electronic 
"brain" has been designed which 
instead of making computations 
from facts and figures fed into it, 
picks up its own facts from the un- 
conscious patient's body and re- 
lays them to the surgeon. Records 
of blood pressure, pulse rate, 
breathing rate and volume of air 
exhaled per minute are taken con- 
tinuously, and indicated in such a 
manner that the surgeon or anes- 
thesiologist can interpret the situ- 
ation at a glance. 

New cars may be coming off the 
production lines a great deal faster 
than they do now, and they may 
be a good deal cheaper too. A tough 
new plastic has been introduced 
which requires only three or four 
.weeks to be made into dies for auto- 
mobile parts. The steel dies now in 
use need three to eight months of 
work before they can be used and 
cost thirty to seventy per cent more 
than the new plastic dies. 



WHAT IS YOUR SCIENCE I.Q.? 

ANSWERS: 1—761. 2— Both are vacuum tubes. 3— dimmest. 
4 — 1/3. 5 — 32. 6— Alcor. 7 — photons. 8 — methane. 9- — eight. 
l:0-4/5ths. 11—18,000. 12— transit. 13— Mars. 14— Betelgeuse. 
15—28. 16—1/10,000 of a second. 17^Lithium. 18— yellow. 
19 — Messier 31. 20^-thennonuclear, 



SCIENCE BRIEFS 



119 



These sreat minds were Kmia^ucians \ : 



liiiPsiWfFiltR 

WD THtY POSSESS? 






tsaa( Newton 




Vranch Bacon 



THt^fiOdKFRI 



Why were these men great? 

How does anyone — man or woman — achieve 
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within ourselves ? 

Know the mysterious world within you ! Attune 
yourself to the wisdom of the ages! Grasp the 
inner power of your mind .' Learn the secrets of a 
full and peaceful life ! 

Benjamin Franklin, statesman and inventor. .. 
Isaac Newton, discoverer of the Law of Gravita- 
tion . . . Francis Bacon, philosopher and scientist 
. . . like many other learned and great men and 
women . . . were Rosicrucians. The Rosicrucians 
(NOT a religious organization) have been in 
existence for centuries. Today, headquarters of 
the Rosicrucians send over seven million pieces 
of mail annually to all parts of the world. 

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